Bay of Plenty’s Apata Group has started its $39 million development on 76 hectares of land on Tiniroto Road, on the land bought from the Wi Pere Trust. The development will be more than twice the size of any existing kiwifruit operation here and will result in the largest single kiwifruit orchard in Gisborne.
Apata managing director Stuart Weston said Apata was last year on the hunt for a large parcel of land in the Poverty Bay/Hawke’s Bay region to establish a gold kiwifruit orchard. The search led it to a 76-hectare property on Tiniroto Road that was either planted in citrus or was bare land previously used for grapes.
The Gisborne Herald quoted Weston as saying: “There are significant commercial benefits in developing a large-scale gold kiwifruit orchard in this region. The unique combination of soil composition and climate produces the industry’s largest source of KiwiStart fruit — fruit that can be picked very early in the season, which attracts significant premiums from Zespri.”
Apata secured the property through a tender process and in February called for investors to enable the property’s transition into a 62.3-canopy-hectare kiwifruit orchard.
“Within four weeks the offer was fully subscribed,” said Weston. “When combined with the forecast bank debt required, the total investment in the property by all parties will eventually sit at around $39 million over a three year period. This is a large project and one that will not only benefit Apata and investors, but also the Gisborne community through the creation of work and the cash injection into the local economy through our business partnerships.”
Apata orchards general manager Shaun Vickers said Apata had already removed more than 27 hectares of citrus and completed large-scale soil, irrigation and drainage works. “We’ve worked, and continue to work closely, with LeaderBrand and AgFirst Gisborne, and will soon be looking to put in the structures required to support and protect the kiwifruit vines as they grow,” Vickers said.