Vast Napier property ideal for aquaculture

5:00 AM Saturday February 25, 2017 True Commercial

The waterfront property has infrastructure in place to re-establish paua, or sea horse rearing plants. Photo / Supplied

A property once tipped to become New Zealand’s biggest commercial aquaculture plant - fronting directly on to the Pacific Ocean at Awatoto, just south of Napier - is now for sale.

The 7760sq industrial-zoned property is being sold by tender closing on March 10 through Bayleys’ Napier salespeople Daniel Moffitt and Sam MacDonald.

The site once housed burgeoning paua-rearing and production plant Paua Fresh which burnt to the ground in 2014.

McDonald says the fire destroyed the well-established and growing paua farming facility, but its heavy-duty saltwater pump and pipeline (stretching some 100m out to sea) remains intact.

“The nutrient-rich sea water offshore was pumped over the shellfish in large indoor pools, then re-circulated back out to sea in cycles.”

Some years ago an Awatoto zone was established as an aquatic-based industrial hub, says MacDonald.

“The land for sale, at 530-550 State Highway 2, sits immediately beside the Chinese-owned Pure One bottling plant set up last year to export up to 405.6 million litres of spring water to the Asian market annually.

“Another natural spring bottler, Jess and Tae’s Water operates from Awatoto, with consent to package up to 786 million litres of water annually — most destined for the Indian market.

“The Pure One automated bottling plant and warehousing sits on what was previously a commercial sea horse farm and tourist attraction, which closed some 10 years ago.

“Sea horse is a Chinese delicacy used in liquor — in the same way worms are preserved in tequila — and also ground up and sprinkled over food.”

MacDonald says the mechanical and landscaping infrastructure at 530-550 State Highway 2 is in place to re-establish a paua rearing and processing plant, a sea horse plant, or a combination of both, with an eye to the lucrative international market.

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The property is beside the Chinese-owned Pure One bottling plant. Photo / Supplied

 “Trade with China has grown substantially over the past decade — through a combination of both growing consumer demand for our primary produce from within China, and Chinese investment capital coming into New Zealand to meet that demand in a vertical supply model,” he says.

“As we have seen with wine, and most recently apples and honey, there is huge demand for New Zealand-branded primary produce.

“This demand would certainly underpin confidence in the establishment of another aquatic-based production plant on this site again. With paua locally retailing for $95 a kilogramme, the delicacy is one of the most high value proteins produced in this country — even before looking at its worth on the international market.”

New Zealand now has about 13 commercially-licensed paua farms, the largest of which — in Bream Bay, Northland — is on track to become the country’s first 100 tonne production facility.

“Paua farming is still one of the smallest aquaculture sectors in New Zealand, but enormous opportunity remains for new areas of development and growth in hatchery, processing, marketing and service sectors. The product could be to aquaculture what kiwifruit was to horticulture in the 1970s,” MacDonald says.

The Awatoto site contains seven residential properties — generating a holding income of $81,640 per annum from six of the homes. Moffitt says one of the dwellings had had previously returned an annual rental of $7800.

“The dwellings are relatively basic. They could deliver a holding income until resource consent is acquired for alternative land use, and could be easily removed to make way for an industrial building,” says Moffitt.

He says though there is no current consent for water extraction from the property, there is an artesian well with a water bore sunk to 45m.

MacDonald says the site could also accommodate the construction of a substantial agricultural coolstore and packhouse facility.