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Takitimu Seafoods to close after big losses

Ngati Kahungunu’s fisheries business, Takitimu Seafoods Limited, is closing down after recording almost $15 million in losses.

The company announced yesterday that it would be closing its retail store, online store, and wholesale business in Ahuriri, Napier, affecting 33 staff.

A Ngati Kahungunu spokesperson said yesterday that only Wairarapa customers of Takitimu would be affected by the closure.

Takitimu Seafoods Limited was established in 2019 after the purchase of Hawke’s Bay Seafoods, which had been the subject of a lengthy court action that resulted in a hefty fine of $1.08m for large-scale illegal fishing.

However, a spokesperson said the fisheries company had reported three years of financial losses totalling $14.9 million to its shareholder Ngati Kahungunu Asset Holdings Company [KAHC], the investment arm of Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated.

KAHC chair Trevor Moeke said with financial losses likely to continue and an enforced six-week closure because of Cyclone Gabrielle, KAHC recommended the board close the business.

“We have been working hard to right the waka over the last nine months, but ultimately the business has a directive to be profitable for our iwi, so it can protect the interests of its members, and at the moment, it isn’t a viable operation,” Moeke said.

Ngati Kahungunu also cited the covid-19 pandemic as a problem for the business in an April 2022 media release: “The first sign of covid-19 hitting Takitimu Seafoods was January 2020, when the cancellation of the Chinese New Year ceased all export sales of crayfish and seafood to China.

“A major export channel for Takitimu Seafoods had all but stopped overnight.”

Moeke said the iwi would now explore new opportunities as they arose to create a financial return that ensures Ngati Kahungunu delivered positive outcomes for its people.

He said Cyclone Gabrielle forced a shutdown of all operations, initially because of electricity and telecommunication outages, but the closure continued to check damage to the buildings and equipment.

Takitimu Seafood chair Ngahiwi Tomoana said it was a difficult decision to close permanently, and the priority is now to support the employees.

The management and board met with staff this week as part of its consultation process.

“We have tried everything from a restructure last year to cutting back on operational costs, but the business is unlikely to return a profit for some time,” Tomoana said.

Takitimu Seafoods has offered to pay permanent staff eight weeks’ pay, and the iwi has re-established its Manaaki Support Centre, which was used after last year’s restructure.

Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated chair Bayden Barber said although the decision not to reopen was difficult, it was also in the best interests of the iwi and its people.

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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