Whether it's mince and cheese, smoked fish, butter chicken - Maketu Pies is an iconic brand many Kiwis have grown to know and love. Nestled in a small town on the Bay of Plenty coast is where the pies are made. Almost everyone who lives there has worked there, or still does. One hundred, sometimes 200, pies fly off the shelves at its neighbouring dairy each day. Now, the Maketu community has been devastated by the news the company has gone into receivership. Reporter Zoe Hunter talks to residents and the receivers.
Iconic Bay company Maketu Pies has gone into receivership due to its "critical financial position".
The business has been operating in Maketū for about 36 years and is the community's biggest employer of about 40 staff, mostly locals.
The shop on Little Waihi Rd is owned by husband and wife Grant and Karen Wilson.
A notice published in the Bay of Plenty Times yesterday stated that Thomas Rodewald and Kenneth Brown were appointed as joint receivers and managers of RG and KM Wilson Limited - trading as Maketu Pies - on September 27.
Thomas Rodewald said Maketu Pies was placed into receivership at the request of the directors due to the "critical financial position" the company was in.
The business was "still working on" how much was owed, he said. The decision was made late on Thursday.
"The best option was to put [the company] into receivership to enable it to continue to trade. It is a bit early to say how it got to this point and to estimate what has caused the issue."
Rodewald confirmed the company would continue trading in the interim while they discussed selling the business.
"As part of the sale we will be trying to sell the brand," he said.
Say cheese: Pat Lam reveals secret to NZ's best pie
One pie to rule them all - Pat Lam crowned Lord of the Pies
Rodewald said there were a number of "interested parties" in the sale, which included other operators in the industry as well as people from outside the industry.
The business had been trading for about 36 years and had about 40 full and part-time employees, he said.
Both directors were working closely with the receivers to ensure the business continued to trade and had been advised not to speak to the media, Rodewald said.
The Bay of Plenty Times was unable to contact the Wilsons yesterday.
The news the company was in receivership has rocked the community.
Former employee Ronnie Tapsell-Walters worked at Maketu Pies for 13 years and said almost everyone living in Maketū was, or knew someone, employed by the company.
"It has employed so much of Maketū. For a lot of them that is their only income for the house."
Tapsell-Walters, who used to run the oven room, said she felt for her former bosses who had given so much to the community.
"They are a community-wise whānau. They have always been about employing locals. They back this community, they back Maketū hard," she said.
"It is heartbreaking because it is a community business ... Generations have been employed there."
The former employee said the community had been talking about buying shares in the company to help keep it afloat.
"If there was a way they could save it they would. They are good people."
Maketu Health and Social Services whanau ora co-ordinators Corrine Paul and Moki Thomas said it was devastating news for the community.
"About 90 per cent of their employees are local. We feel for them and all of their workers," Paul said.
"I feel their pain," said Thomas, who worked as one of the cooks at Maketu Pies in 2011.
Maketū Community Board chairman Shane Beech said he was devastated to hear the news.
"Maketu Pies is iconic nationally and internationally. It has certainly put Maketū on the map."
Beech said the owners were "a lovely, well-respected" family in Maketū and the business was the largest single employer of Maketū residents.
"It is absolutely devastating. If they were to close it would have a huge impact on the Maketū community."
Maketu Landing dairy manager Angrez Singh said the news was "totally unbelievable".
Singh said the shop next door to the business sold about 100 Maketu Pies per day and close to 200 a day during the summer.
"They are quite popular. People are talking about it."
Mince and cheese, smoked fish, butter chicken and steak and cheese were the most popular flavours, he said.