A co-designed innovation and enterprise park near Ngawha in Northland, which supports the aspirations of the local and wider Te Tai Tokerau community, has won the inclusive development award at the 2021 Economic Development New Zealand (EDNZ) Awards.
The Mid-North based project has been developed by the Council-owned company Far North Holdings, mana whenua Ngāti Rangi, Tinakori Enterprise and the local business community, with support from the regional economic development agency Northland Inc.
Far North Holdings, the CCTO of Far North District Council, were entrusted by FNDC and the community to generate employment outcomes for the District.
Over the past 3 years FNHL have met with: industry leaders throughout New Zealand, Government Agencies and equity/impact investors, as the company sought to evaluate the potential for the location and inform the masterplan design. Subsequent to this FNHL secured the necessary resource consents, master-planned the Innovation Park 20 years out and in this designed the associated infrastructure needed to support the long term circular economy vision. With funding now secured FNHL are project managing the civil work and construction of the buildings that are being leased to the Park tenants.
The development of the park reflects a genuine commitment to partnership between all the parties explains Ngāti Rangi hapu member Wayne Rogers, who is also the skills and employment coordinator at the park.
“This park is a win-win situation for everyone. It provides opportunities for our hapū and iwi to work alongside industries so that we can all benefit,” said Mr Rogers. “Ngāti Rangi brings to the partnership, its knowledge about the whenua, its history, values and resources. Local employment is a top priority for everyone and we can see opportunities for our whānau in terms of jobs, and for our hapū as business owners and entrepreneurs,” he added.
The infrastructure for 240-hectare park has been funded by $19.5m from the Provincial Growth Fund. The park will significantly grow the economic potential of the entire region and local community and is founded on two guiding principles, opportunity and wellbeing. Opportunity for businesses and community development, and wellbeing of the people and the land. Chief executive officer of Far North Holdings, Andy Nock, says that this could not have been achieved without the substantial PGF support that has enabled the construction of the infrastructure needed to open the land up for development and believes there are no other initiatives in New Zealand with such a holistic approach to economic development.
“The innovation and enterprise park is a ‘closed loop’ eco-system where onsite businesses re-use the waste products of other industries, add value to them and develop additional economic activity and employment. This project has been designed to achieve economic, social, cultural and environmental outcomes in a uniquely integrated and sustainable way,” said Sue Dobbie of Tinakori Enterprises.
Kaikohe Berryfruit Ltd, and the world’s leading producer of virgin and organic avocado oil, Olivado, are among the foundation businesses of the park. Olivado is installing a biogas facility that will recycle on-site waste from the park, along with local dairy farm effluent and produce biomethane gas. This gas will fuel Olivado’s own processing plant and a Ngāti Rangi manuka oil distillery. The biogas facility will also produce, as a final by-product, organic fertiliser to support Kaikohe Berryfruit’s horticultural operations.
“The park has the potential to create enough employment for all of Kaikohe’s unemployed. The berryfruit company alone has already created 20 new jobs within the first few months of construction. One hundred permanent jobs are expected on the site by the end of 2021,” added Mr Nock.
An additional 100 seasonal jobs are expected on-site, with plans to develop these into permanent year-round employment through networked seasonal activities across industries and the district.
Northland Inc is establishing an innovation centre at the heart of the park to focus on research, development, innovation and education. This centre will foster collaboration, help to solve industry problems, and seize opportunities which can add value to a wide range of businesses located in the park.
“Investing in research and innovation is vital to the future of the Northland economy,” says Northland Inc Chair and Far North Holdings Board member, Sarah Peterson.
“Presented with ever-changing world economies and changing climatic conditions, this innovation facility will provide Northland with a platform for the innovative leadership we are going to need to carry our economy forward in our region. Through this facility our Te Tai Tokerau businesses will now have an opportunity to innovate and grow so that we can increase productivity, develop environmentally sustainable solutions and add value to our products,” says Ms Peterson.
The park will also have a new dedicated education precinct which will provide trades training courses for up to 160 people. Businesses will be able to work hand-in-hand with education and training providers to upskill local people into employment. Northland Inc’s skills and employment co-ordinator, Wayne Rogers of Ngāti Rangi, has been engaged to facilitate industry training programmes and provide pastoral support for workers entering the local industries.
The award was presented to Far North Holdings, Ngāti Rangi, Northland Inc and Tinakori Enterprise at the EDNZ Awards gala dinner in Palmerston North last night (27 May).