Government invests in Te Huata Mussel Spat Hatchery

The Government is partnering with the community to support the country’s aquaculture industry to help develop a much-needed mussel spat hatchery in Te Moana-a-Toi Bay of Plenty.

Eastern Bay of Plenty iwi Te Whānau-ā-Apanui will receive investment from the new Regional Strategic Partnership Fund (RSPF) so it can develop a hatchery and research hub near Te Kaha.  Accelerating the aquaculture industry has been identified as one of the priorities for economic growth in the Bay of Plenty.

This investment through the RSPF also delivers on a manifesto commitment to keep supporting regional economic development once the Provincial Growth Fund closed to applications. This is the second major investment from the new RSPF, following the government equity stake in the Geo40 Lithium Recovery project near Taupō.

Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash says the investment will have a significant impact locally and nationally.

“Having a reliable source of quality hatchery spat is an important step in helping the nation’s aquaculture industry be more resilient, improving its supply chain and securing its long-term sustainability.”

“The new hatchery will significantly decrease New Zealand’s reliance on mussel spat – or larvae - sourced from the wild.  This wild-sourced spat is unreliable in terms of quantity and quality compared to spat bred in a hatchery,” Stuart Nash says.

“Despite this clear quality difference, more than 80 percent of the industry currently relies on spat caught in the wild, and it cannot guarantee sufficient supply for existing mussel farms now, let alone into the future.

Stuart Nash says developing the hatchery is important in empowering Māori to help grow aquaculture in Aotearoa and improve Māori prosperity.

“Aquaculture is a regional priority for Bay of Plenty, and this investment will stimulate the local and Māori economies, unlocking the region’s comparative advantage in aquaculture.

“This project will also help safeguard a valuable nationwide industry and promote economic development in Bay of Plenty by helping capitalise on the region’s ocean resources,” Stuart Nash says.

“It also builds on previous investment by the government’s regional economic development unit, Kānoa – RDU, in Bay of Plenty aquaculture, including the Ōpōtiki harbour development, marina and mussel processing factory.”

Stuart Nash says the investment is also a sign of the Government’s commitment to building a robust nationwide aquaculture industry and will help unlock broader government and industry funding.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries has estimated up to five new hatcheries are needed to achieve the Government’s Aquaculture Strategy goal of $3 billion in annual sales by 2035.

“The Aquaculture Strategy aims to enhance New Zealand as a world-leader in sustainable and innovative aquaculture management. This investment will contribute greatly to our long-term vision and is being supported across a wide range of government departments.”

Stuart Nash says the partnership with Te Whānau-ā-Apanui is crucial to this project.

“The Government investment will provide the iwi’s aquaculture development, Te Huata International Limited, a strong base for the capital raise from private and other iwi investors. In the longer term, this has the power to drive Māori prosperity in the region.

“Building local partnerships is at the heart of the RSPF as we seek to grow more productive, inclusive, resilient, and Māori-enabling regional economies.”

Kānoa – Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit will initially invest $500,000 as equity with more funding to be released, up to $6 million, alongside investment from iwi, hapu and other investors.