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Te Rarawa purchases Northland's iconic Bell's Produce

In its largest acquisition since settlement Te Rarawa has purchased iconic Bell’s Produce Limited, as part of a strategic investment into Northland's growing horticultural industry. 

Following a robust due diligence and negotiation process by Te Rarawa's asset holding company Te Waka Pupuri Pūtea, the Bell’s purchase adds to our iwi's expanding commercial asset base. 

Tasked with holding, protecting and growing Te Rarawa’s commercial investments and assets, Te Waka Pupuri Pūtea makes the purchase in line with strategic development plans into horticulture.

 

"Our climate lends itself well to horticulture and we’re looking to grow jobs, grow capacity and develop a highly skilled workforce fitting for our region. This acquisition gives us a good ten-year start toward achieving our horticultural aspirations,” June McCabe, Chairman of Te Waka Pupuri Pūtea said.

Employing more than one hundred staff during peak season, Bell’s 212ha horticultural lands adjoins farming property owned by Te Rarawa in Pukepoto. 

“We can potentially amalgamate adjoining lands and work with Bell’s to use their intellectual capital and infrastructure to expand production,” June said. 

"In the Far North we have plenty of sunshine hours and a warm climate – all perfect for growing sweet juicy fruit and fresh vegetables,” she said. 

She believes investing into New Zealand’s $5.8 billion horticultural industry makes good sense with demand for fruit and vegetables expected to be one third higher by 2043. 

The Bell’s acquisition supports a growing trend seen in ANZ Bank’s latest Iwi Investment Insights Report where post-settlement iwi have the majority of their assets invested within their own rohe, reflecting a common desire to invest locally to create opportunities for their people according to report author ANZ’s David Harrison.

Haami Piripi, Chairman of Te Rarawa said he is excited for the iwi as Bell’s Produce is a strong horticultural platform for Te Rarawa to build from. 

“We’re continuing their good work in the local economy and Northland on the whole,” Haami said.

The Te Rarawa Trustees’ decision to purchase was made recognising the iwi’s guiding ‘Four Pou’ principle that works across economic, social, cultural and environmental wellbeing.

“Commercially it’s a sound, sustainable business, socially it will help develop our workforce and expand our horticultural knowledge and capacity. Culturally it strengthens our presence and identity as a significant investor in the rohe - and it’s a business that runs applying environmental good practice,” Haami said.

Figures released in the latest annual report show for the year ended December 2018, Te Rarawa had grown its assets from $39.8 million to $70.3 million since settlement in 2015.

The Bell’s Produce Founders who established Bell’s in 1995 are delighted to see the family business become an iwi business and they look forward to seeing Te Rarawa take it to the next level.

“It’s a great opportunity for Te Rarawa to step it up a gear and the potential to amalgamate the properties allows them to increase growing capacity,” Allan said.

With his forty-three years’ experience Allan will continue to help steer the business into the future as a member of the Bell’s Produce board of directors.

“I’m not walking away from it and together we’ll keep things ‘business as usual’, with no disruption to our valued staff, who’ve been the key factor to our development to date,” he said. 

In addition to ANZ, Ngati Kuri have partially funded the acquisition with the intention of collaborating further with Te Waka Pupuri Pūtea on other horticulture opportunities.