An “inspirational and innovative” berry growing business in Maungatapere, near Whangārei, has the potential to become a model for the region, believes Northland Inc’s Vaughan Cooper.
Onyx Capital Limited, a high-tech hydroponic grower that produces berries under the Maungatapere Berries brand name, received a $2.37 million boost in a Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) partnership announced today (Friday) by Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones.
“Onyx Capital are creating consistent full-time work, matched with an education training process that leads to further improving staff so they can advance into long-term careers,” said Cooper, Northland Inc’s acting CEO.
“They are an inspirational, innovative and inclusive organisation, with a dedicated, passionate team, and a model for the region moving forward.”
The investment will enable the business, owned by the Malley family, to complete the first phase of its expansion, which will see an extra four hectares of hydroponic berries planted while creating 45 full-time local jobs.
“We aim to use it as a template designed to create better-paying jobs and lifelong careers for young Northlanders as well as improving the social and economic benefits for local communities,” said Patrick Malley.
The hydroponic orchard will focus on berryfruit and other fruit varieties that flourish when grown hydroponically in Northland’s warm semi-tropical climate.
The family first started developing part of their 37ha kiwifruit orchard into a hydroponic berry operation four years ago, concentrating on growing high-quality, good-tasting fruit to supply the New Zealand domestic market all-year round.
The investment was identified as a key project in the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan (TTNEAP), which among its many roles, supports the research, development and expansion of berry production in Northland.
Launched in 2016 and refreshed in 2019, the TTNEAP – which is being facilitated and supported by Northland Inc, the regional economic development agency – brings into focus a group of projects that together are contributing to the transformation of Northland’s economy.
Progress is being made through identifying opportunities and inspiring innovation to encourage further investment, boosting sustainable jobs and productivity, building capability and empowering and engaging communities to reach their full potential.