Partnership success between Nelson Regional Development Agency and regional industry to secure Government seed funding for new project to strengthen Blue Economy Cluster

Partnership success between Nelson Regional Development Agency and regional industry to secure Government seed funding for new project to strengthen Blue Economy Cluster

Written by Gareth Power Gordon

Posted on Thursday 23 March 2023

Nelson Regional Development Agency (NRDA) welcomes the Government’s announcement that it has received $500,000 over two years from the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures Fund for the development of Moananui – A Blue Economy Cluster.

The establishment of Moananui will accelerate and leverage the region as a global leader in creating a highly valuable, regenerative, collaborative and inclusive blue economy. Moananui is a partnership between industry, NRDA, Councils, Government and the community.

The objective of Moananui is to build a shared competitive advantage by positioning Nelson Tasman and New Zealand as a world-leading ecosystem for developing and commercialising blue economy products, services, technology, research and capability.

Moananui will foster a growing number of blue economy organisations and strengthen connections and collaborations between private firms, public sector entities and knowledge institutions, with the objective of transforming New Zealand into a global leader for blue economy innovation and collaboration.

The Blue Economy refers to marine activities that generate economic value and contribute positively to social, cultural and ecological wellbeing.

Fiona Wilson, CE of NRDA, is proud of the work undertaken to get to this point. “Nelson Tasman accounts for more than 30 percent of New Zealand’s economic activity in fishing, aquaculture, and seafood processing, Moananui was identified as an investment priority that is primed and ready to leverage regional, inter-regional and international opportunities and make a major contribution to the national economy. Initiatives such as this are central to achieving Government’s ambitions to create a low-carbon, socially inclusive and resource efficient economy.

“The Nelson Regional Development Agency (NRDA) is the sponsor of this business case and current host of the Moananui project which developed from an industry forum held in late 2021, with a direct call for collaboration. Until now, NRDA has been funding Moananui; the Government seed-funding will enable two-years of operations while a sustainable business model for the cluster is established.” says Wilson.

Nelson Mayor Nick Smith has welcomed the announcement of Government funding for Moananui.

“The opportunities for the Blue Economy are huge for New Zealand with our area of ocean 21 times greater than our land mass. Nelson and Te Tauihu is the natural home for the development of these ocean opportunities with over 400 maritime-related businesses based here,” Mayor Nick says.

“This initiative is about building on Nelson’s base as New Zealand’s largest fishing port and being home to the Cawthron Institute to sustainably grow new jobs and wealth in marine industries.

“The oceans are a new frontier for economic development internationally and Nelson has the opportunity to lead the development of New Zealand’s Blue Economy in a sustainable way,” he says. 

“The challenge in unlocking the promise and potential of New Zealand’s blue economy is in building collaboration and fuelling innovation across the sector. By kickstarting Moananui, we aren’t actually creating a new cluster, we are simply bringing together what already exists in a way that accelerates value creation and capitalises on untapped potential,” says Tasman Mayor, Tim King.

Meg Matthews, Chair of both NRDA and Cawthron Institute, is excited by the early interest from partners, investment and project support Moananui has already generated. “A prerequisite of Government funding was demonstrating support from industry, with both financial and non-financial support. The importance of this sector by data, performance and employment says collaboration – Moananui – is a no brainer. What may have worked to individual business advantage in the past is not the template for future success,” says Matthews.

“Getting to this point would not have been possible without the support of our Founding Partners. I would like to thank Port Nelson, MacLab, Pharmalink, Extracts, Kernohan Engineering, Sealord, Cawthron, Plant and Food, and Wakatū Incorporation for supporting Moananui,” says Matthews.

Over this two-year activation and implementation stage, Moananui will provide leadership for the blue economy, establish projects, facilitate investment partnerships, host events and delegations, investigate accelerator and incubator programmes, grow the profile of the blue economy, and build and support membership.

There are similar clusters operating overseas, which our seafood and aquaculture sector can tap into.
“New Zealand has a lot to offer and, equally, there’s a lot we can learn from similar clusters overseas, such as in USA, Canada, Norway and Iceland.” Oceans and Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash said.

“The new project will help our local businesses establish connections, stimulate innovation, and attract investors. This project is a great example of Government working in partnership with local businesses and regional leaders to enhance our competitive advantage overseas, create more jobs to boost the local Nelson Tasman economy, and focus efforts on low carbon, sustainable initiatives.” Stuart Nash said.
Stuart Nash said the project is a great fit with the Fisheries Industry Transformation Plan currently under development.

“The Fisheries Industry Transformation Plan is expected to identify the importance of collaboration across the sector, environmental sustainability, and innovation to the sector’s success.
“The new Moananui – Blue Economy Cluster project will be another step towards turning the plan into action.” Stuart Nash said.