He's the kid from Aramoho who introduces himself internationally as "The King of New Zealand".

Noel Turner is high-energy, a veritable human dynamo. A hustler who built up a business from nothing, he is now a highly successful businessman running a multimillion-dollar global company, dividing his home life between California and Austria.

Noel owns leading health and nutrition product company Frezzor, sourcing organic ingredients from New Zealand for his supplements. He is also the brains behind Turner New Zealand which sold organic beef, lamb, venison, seafood and shellfish internationally.

With the range of Frezzor products continuing to expand, Noel was back in New Zealand earlier this year to develop an organic energy drink, working with Massey University scientists and food technologists.


It's a huge contrast to Noel's humble beginnings.

Noel Turner holds a bluefin tuna on Castlecliff Wharf in December 1971.
Noel Turner holds a bluefin tuna on Castlecliff Wharf in December 1971.

"I grew up in a shack in Barrack St in Aramoho," Noel says.

"We ate well but we had no money. The old man was a fisherman and so was my grandfather. The old man used to beat me to keep me under control. I loved my dad but it was just the way things were. My home life was a disaster so I did things on the outside and kept myself motivated."

Those outside interests included competitive cycling and rowing where he was a coxswain. He excelled at both sports and as we talk he drops in a few names of well-known Whanganui sporting people he was involved with. Names like Dick Tonks, who became an Olympic rowing medallist then national rowing coach (Noel was in a crew with Dick in their youth), and Bill Main who encouraged Noel to pursue cycling.

Noel attended Keith St School, Wanganui Intermediate and Wanganui Boys' College but says school was not his thing. He left at 16 and in December 1971 "went fishing with the old man". After working on fishing boats in Whanganui, he moved to Nelson when he was 21.

Noel Turner with a great white shark he caught in Nelson.
Noel Turner with a great white shark he caught in Nelson.

"That's where I had the epiphany of my life. I was working as a fisherman, catching sharks, and in 1976 met a marine biologist from Russia who talked to me about the properties of green-lipped mussels. At that time they were wild, not farmed. He said that synthetic anti-inflammatories were killing people and he knew that there was a low incidence of arthritis and asthma in people who ate a high level of green-lipped mussels. He said someone would grow them and make millions of dollars.

"I grew up eating heaps of those things and I thought 'I can grow mussels; I don't know how but I can figure it out'. All I had was my strength and my vitality."

Noel's first attempts involved 44 gallon drums and wooden rafts; he describes the initial endeavours as "a disaster".

"But I didn't give up. This was my chance to get out of poverty. I began growing mussels in 1976 to 1982 and I'm not saying I was the only one but I was one of about half a dozen pioneers growing green-lipped mussels."

The properties of the oil that Noel would go on to build his Frezzor business around were not well-known at that time so he decided to sell the mussels as a gourmet food.

"I bought a little factory in Havelock and started processing half-shell frozen green-lipped mussels. There was no email or texts in those days so I was going through the Yellow Pages [phone book] and phoning importers in America. No one in New Zealand wanted to buy mussels because they could get them for free."

In 1982 Noel made his first sale of a containerload for $7000 to a New York-based importer but there were no more orders. The lack of orders prompted his decision to make the move to the United States and sell them himself.

"I got a three-year work visa which you could in those days. I landed in 1985 with $3000, no driver's licence, no US credit card and nowhere to live. But I was hungry and I had passion and vision. Nothing was going to turn me back."

Noel began selling his mussels to restaurants, operating out of the boot of his car. It was a hard slog but he worked around the clock and visited more than 10,000 restaurants throughout the United States and later Europe. His first United States distributor was Santa Monica Seafood, the largest seafood distributor in the southwestern United States.

The next coup was branding. Noel began branding his mussels as Turner Mussels and they appeared on restaurant menus under that name. As the business expanded, he added calamari and other seafood and then organic New Zealand meat products. All had the Turner brand when they were listed on menus.

Within five years he had made $2 million; in 10 years it increased to $20m.

In 2002 he opened the five-star Turner New Zealand Steakhouse and Seafood House in the United States, importing organic New Zealand food.

However, the mussel oil properties that had provided the eureka moment decades ago, and triggered Noel's decision to grow green lipped mussels, were still on his mind and he had also been developing his Omega-3 product.

Changes in the restaurant industry saw Noel get out of that market and concentrate on green-lipped mussel oil. In 2008 he opened a mussel oil cold extraction plant, which he still owns, in Havelock. He set up Frezzor and launched his range of Omega-3 products containing green lipped mussel oil. His wellness and nutritional products are now a multimillion-dollar business and are sold around the world.

"When I went to the United States, people in New Zealand told me I would never make it and would be back. I have homes in California and Austria now. I'm on TV shows in the United States."

But Noel has not turned his back on his roots. His lawyer for the past 40 years has been old schoolmate Ian Burgess; Rex McKinnon is his business adviser and James Bowen is his corporate accountant. All three are based in Whanganui. When we meet, he talks about the kids he grew up with, some of whom are still living in his home town.

Two major accidents in his teens helped shape Noel's determination to make the most of life. The second accident, in which his motorbike was hit by a drunk driver, left him near death.

"I broke just about everything and the hospital called mum and dad because they thought I would die. I spent six months mending from that."

Since then he's flung himself 100 per cent into everything he's done and he's not worried what the rest of us think about it.

"I piss a lot of people off because I don't compromise. I do hold people accountable but I hold myself accountable first."

Noel is a Christian and proud of it.

"I'm doing my calling and purpose in life which is helping other people – that's what I love to do. The most valuable things in my life are first faith and then health and happiness.

"Life is precious and valuable so follow your heart and your dreams. People don't realise they have a choice and free will."

Noel tells me he got back on his bike after 45 years and competed in the World Masters Games last year. He credits his healthy lifestyle ("nutrition is key to how your body and brain work") with his placings near the top of his age group, despite so many years of not cycling. It probably also had a lot to do with the tenacity and determination he brings to everything he does.

"When I found out about green-lipped mussels and decided to move to the United States, I was relentless. Go do what you want to do. Cut the excuses – they only hold you back. I had all the disadvantages but I overcame them.

"We live in a broken world but I want people to know that they don't have to live by other people's standards and beliefs. Whatever way you are made, live what's in your heart. Have pride in yourself, have dignity and behave with integrity.

"Life is a short ride – you'd better not miss it."


It was the science behind green-lipped mussel oil that brought Noel and his German wife Christine together.

Christine is a former teacher of children with special needs but now works in the Frezzor business. She is a true sceptic turned convert.

In 2010 she was given a bottle of the Omega-3 product by a friend. In fact, she describes it as being "forced on me".

"I didn't want to take it but it was expensive so I didn't want to throw it out and left it sitting there for a while," Christine says.

After eventually deciding to try the product and finding it helped with inflammation in her leg, she wanted to know more about the properties of the oil.

"The inflammation in my leg disappeared and I felt really happy. I asked my friend if he had put something in my drink – you know, drugs or something. He said of course not. So I started doing some research about Omega-3 and then got the chance to meet Noel."

The rest, as they say, is history.