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Official opening of the Ngawha Innovation and Enterprise Park

Far North Holdings Ltd in association with Ngāti Rangi were excited to welcome distinguished guests, local iwi and hapū members, key stakeholders and the Kaikohe community to their Puanga Celebration on June 13.

Around 250 people descended on the Ngawha Innovation & Enterprise Park on Tuesday to attend the blessing, opening and operation of the Park, the ara waka (driveway entrance) and this special time of year.

The event kicked off at 6:30am with mana whenua Ngāti Rangi welcoming guests with a special pōwhiri (welcome ceremony) and karakia (prayers) at the Puriri tree entrance of the Park, before Minister Willow-Jean Prime conducted the official ribbon-cutting. From there, the local kaumatua led the crowd on a hikoi (walk) to the Mahinga Innovation Centre, which was followed by whaikōrero (speeches), Far North Kahika/Mayor Moko Tepania unveiling a plaque on the new Mahinga building, wā kai (food), Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kaikohe performance and tour of the facilities.

The launch signified the completion of the first stage of the $48m green fields development made possible through the support of the government’s $19.52m Provincial Growth Fund investment. The award-winning, world-leading project is a community economic development initiative designed to create employment opportunities for one of Aotearoa’s most deprived yet potentially successful communities, through its rich natural assets and youthful Māori population.

Far North Holdings Ltd CEO Andy Nock said The Park was providing a platform that sought to transform the Tai Tokerau economy from a low-value, low-skilled supplier of raw materials, to a producer of high-value ingredients and consumer products based on its sub-tropical climate.

“We are seeking to attract primary sector manufacturing and processing companies by offering incredibly competitive terms of occupation, workforce support and training and leverage off the Park’s unique lifestyle working environment,” Nock said.

“We’re also attracting businesses that have symbiotic relationships which enable us to create our own circular economy and provide a place for innovation through collaboration and research and development to grow competitive local businesses.”

The 240-hectare project is different to other business parks in that it utilises a holistic, closed-loop ‘eco-system approach’ to local economic development. Because of this innovative framework, it has the potential to create and generate employment, productivity and GDP growth across the Far North district and wider Tai Tokerau region.

The Park also provides modern facilities, including laboratory spaces, co-working spaces, video conferencing, café and meeting rooms, to encourage more collaboration between businesses and to co-locate research and development activity.

Ngāpuhi Asset Holding Company Limited (“NAHC”) has partnered with Far North Holdings Limited to establish Kaikohe Berryfruit, one of The Park’s anchor tenants.

NAHC CEO Paul Knight said The Park’s kaupapa and easily-accessible location for Kaikohe’s workforce made it an obvious location for the Iwi’s first significant expansion into horticulture.

“My view is that The Park has been an enabler of positive employment outcomes for our people, and I would hold-up Kaikohe Berryfruit as an exemplar of what a partnership between the commercial arms of an Iwi and the council should look like,” Knight said.

“Kaikohe Berryfruit is already having a transformational impact upon our people and the region, which will only increase as Kaikohe Berryfruit expands its footprint to its full 27ha of available land.

“In showcasing the provenance of Kaikohe within a premium range of produce demonstrates all the advantages the region has to offer- not only with its climate and people, but the community’s commitment to support new businesses to develop.

“That’s what this park is all about- drawing on the skill sets and mana of our local resources and people, which in my opinion, has been an incredible success so far.”

The Ngawha Innovation & Enterprise Park also has an education and training precinct focused on working with providers, Regent Training Centre and Te Pūkenga, to deliver skills needed by the businesses at the Park and wider district.

Together with local schools, the Ministry for Social Development, Corrections and Probation Services, the Park is seeking to provide pathways to work and further education. Another important key element of The Park is FNHL’s connection with mana whenua.

There are currently several relationships with mana whenua, with many bringing skills alongside the project including landscape, ecological, kaitiaki, architectural, historical, design/creative.

A number of members have also played a part in the oversight of the site’s civil works, providing peer reviews of the physical development and carrying out all ecological work including bat monitoring, drain muck out, eel collection and resettling, seed harvesting and landscape design.

A longer-term, mutual partnership is being planned and currently worked through with Ngati Rangi hapū.

Ngāti Rangi kaumātua Albert Tana has worked closely with FNHL since The Park’s inception and said he was pleased to see the project get to where it is today.

“I’m encouraged by the fact that we get to create work for our own in the district and this is an occasion we’ve all been waiting for,” Tana said.

“I think The Park will be of benefit not only to Kaikohe, but for the whole of Tai Tokerau.

“Ngāti Rangi feels honoured to participate in the development of this Park as historically the land where the buildings stand was the fruit bowl for our tūpuna.

“Our hapū are also a big part of the opening of The Park and we’ve been fortunate to have the other partners come and stand beside us. We hope everyone will be happy with the outcome.”

Far North Kahika/Mayor Moko Tepania said he was extremely proud of the partnerships that had brought about Ngawha Innovation & Enterprise Park.

With funding assistance from the Government, Tepania said the council’s commercial company FNHL had turned that vision into a reality.

“In 2018, the council had a vision and committed $5 million to buy a dairy farm just outside of Kaikohe to turn it into a ‘market-ready’ industrial park that would attract business and create jobs for the Far North,” Tepania said.

“This is going to be hugely transformational for our Mid North communities, and its benefits are going to be felt across all of Northland.

“We now have secure new jobs, industry training opportunities and the promise of much more to come!”

Water for The Park’s tenants will be supplemented by the Matawii Dam which was officially opened last month by Te Tai Tokerau Water Trust.

List of key businesses at Ngawha Innovation and Enterprise Park:

  • Kaikohe Berry Fruit Ltd

  • Regent Training Centre

  • Te Pūkenga

  • Northland Inc

  • A cluster of small natural products companies manufacturing out of a laboratory at the innovation centre.

Information about Stage 2 of Ngawha Innovation and Enterprise Park:

  1. The Park is developing a business case to build a shared food and beverage manufacturing facility that can be used by local companies to process their own raw materials into added-value products or for contract manufacturing. This is a joint venture with the FoodBowl (part of the NZ Food Innovation Network) and will initially provide juicing, freeze drying, powdering, extraction and packaging/bottling. Other portable technologies will be available through NZFIN.

  2. A shared brewing and fermentation cluster.

  3. To support the growth of a natural products cluster and the manufacturing of ingredients for cosmeceuticals including essential oils and bioactive extracts from native and subtropical plants.

  4. Growing of traditional Māori crops and undercover growing to scale-up production of high-value crops, with a view to processing seconds into high-value products and ingredients.

  5. Low-carbon energy and building products is another area of focus.

  6. The Park is looking to attract any businesses that can contribute to the circular economy through the use of each other’s waste streams or manufacturing by-products. E.g. bio packaging from mycelium.

  7. Support for housing e.g. pre-fabricated housing, joinery to use the trades skills being trained on site.



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