More than 150 people turned up to see NZX-listed Manuka honey exporter, Comvita, officially open its new sustainably-designed warehouse in Paengaroa today.

Comvita chief executive Scott Coulter cut the ribbon to the company's 3500m2 East Wing warehouse, which features the Bay of Plenty's largest solar panel installation generating enough energy to power 53 New Zealand households.

(From left) Comvita chief executive Scott Coulter, chairman Neil Craig and co-founder Alan Bougen at the official opening event.
(From left) Comvita chief executive Scott Coulter, chairman Neil Craig and co-founder Alan Bougen at the official opening event.

The building's temperature-control system will ultilise cool, night time air during the summer to keep the complex at a desirable temperature, and the LED lights fitted throughout are expected to reduce Comvita's onsite energy consumption by 25,000kW annually.

More than 65 per cent of all project construction waste has been recycled.

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Comvita invested $11.7m in the design, build and fit-out of the new warehouse which, from the road-side, resembles large, colourful beehives in recognition of the company's core bee products business.

The building also provides the growing natural health products company with 4700 pallet spaces, a new honey sampling room and undercover work areas outdoors for loading and unloading trucks safely.

Coulter said the completion of the East Wing warehouse marked a significant milestone in Comvita's growth journey in Paengaroa having started from humble beginnings 45 years ago when the company's co-founders, Alan Bougen and Claude Stratford, began making natural health products in the basement of Claude's family home.

Comvita's new warehouse.
Comvita's new warehouse.

"This is a proud day for Comvita. We now have a purpose-built and sustainably-designed warehouse to store our world-renowned honeys, and to support our global logistics.

"This has been a large-scale project for Comvita with construction starting in 2017. I'd like to thank our project partners who've work tirelessly alongside our team to make the project a success. That's what operating in a regional city is all about – businesses helping each other thrive," he said.


Local kaumatua Kahi Hanara blessed the building during a separate ceremony held in mid-March.

Comvita's solar panels.
Comvita's solar panels.

The East Wing warehouse is located on Comvita's expansive Wilson Rd South campus which is also home to its head office and tourism venture Experience Comvita.

The seven-hectare site has its own private road, aptly named Claude Stratford Drive after the company's co-founder who lived to 102.

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Claude credited his longevity to having a spoonful of bee pollen and Manuka honey with his breakfast every morning.

The campus also showcases Comvita's commitment to sustainability.

As well as having 40,000 native and bee-friendly plants onsite there is a community garden which is open to all Paengaroa residents and all wastewater is treated onsite using environmentally-friendly practices and used to irrigate the gardens.