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27 March 2023

Nelson-based ocean cluster to accelerate the growth of the blue economy

Port Nelson is proud to be a founding partner of Moananui. 

Press Release provided by Moananui.

Moananui, a new organisation based in Nelson focused on accelerating the growth of the ‘blue economy’, is welcoming government co-funding to help realise its goal of transforming Aotearoa New Zealand into a world leader in oceans development.

Moananui’s aim is to enable businesses, government bodies and other experts to work together with the aim of fast-tracking growth of the ‘blue economy’ - marine activities that generate economic value and contribute positively to social, cultural and ecological wellbeing. With more than 400 marine-related businesses in Te Tau Ihu, and more than 30 percent of New Zealand’s fishing, aquaculture and seafood processing based here, Nelson was the natural place to establish the cluster.  

“The ocean is key to the region’s wellbeing and prosperity. Developing the economy is often seen as being at odds with social and environmental goals but they are intrinsically linked,” said Moananui Chief Executive Jodie Kuntzsch.  

“If we’re going to accelerate the growth of our blue economy in an intelligent, sustainable and successful way, as guardians, we need to come together and collaborate in new ways. This government funding is an acknowledgment that by establishing connections and pooling resources, we can really innovative and grow this sector much faster than if we worked individually.”  

Minister of Oceans and Fisheries, Hon Stuart Nash, has announced a Government contribution of $500,000 over the next two years through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI’s) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund to help the cluster get up and running.

A further $400,000 will be invested by Moananui’s founding partners; Cawthron Institute, Sealord, Pharmalink Extracts, Port Nelson, Plant & Food Research, Kernohan Engineering, the Nelson Regional Development Agency, Wakatū Incorporation, and MacLab. 

Sealord CEO Doug Paulin said as a custodian of our oceans, it was a no brainer for Sealord to back the establishment of Moananui.  “Sealord has long recognised that we need take a holistic approach to how we operate in our oceans, and we strongly believe that collaboration facilitated by Moananui will help all of us to increase value, connect people and improve ocean health.”

Cawthron CEO Volker Kuntzsch said science and innovation was a key part of realising the potential of the blue economy. “Our oceans have vast, untapped potential to reduce our impact on the environment, while creating sustainable products that enhance people’s wellbeing. Cawthron scientists are already working collaboratively with industry to develop sustainable aquaculture, offshore technology and remote data collection, but we can realise so much more by working as a whole cluster. We are excited and hopeful about what Moananui can achieve.”

The blue economy in Nelson Tasman accounts for more than 3,700 jobs and contributes 5 percent of the region’s GDP, and Nelson Regional Development Agency Chief Executive Fiona Wilson says Moananui has the potential to boost local employment opportunities and provide better access to global markets. “The long-term strength of this cluster will be in its national and international connections, helping our blue economy businesses to grow and put this region on the map.”

“Moananui’s shared goal is to transform Aotearoa New Zealand into a world-leading ecosystem for developing and commercialising blue economy products, services, technology, research and capability. Collectively we want to tap into international markets and investors to boost innovation and growth not only here in Te Tau Ihu, but across the country. With New Zealand home to the fourth largest marine estate in the world, we have a real opportunity to position Aotearoa as a world-leading blue economy,” said Jodie.

With start-up funding now secured, Moananui is in a position to actively drive innovation projects, attract investment and grow membership. The organisation’s official launch event is planned for May 2023.

“We encourage anyone who shares in the vision of Moananui or would like to be involved in the cluster to reach out – the more of us working together collectively means we’ll be able to achieve our vision quicker. Ultimately, we’d like to see cluster activity operating right across the country.”

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