Wakatū Incorporation

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Wakatū – He taonga tuku iho – a business of the land and sea

For the families of Wakatū Incorporation, the land and sea is a fundamental part of who they are.

For 200 years, the ancestors of the company’s shareholders lived in the area, enjoying the rich and diverse land in New Zealand’s South Island.“The Westpac New Zealand team are trusted advisers. Having that high level of trust is particularly important for a Māori business like ours.”

Kerensa Johnston

Today, their descendants are sharing the wonders of this region through Wakatū Incorporation’s diverse portfolio of assets, from vineyards and orchards to residential and commercial properties, marine farms and waterspace.

“Wakatū is what New Zealand business is all about – dedicated and highly skilled local people working together to create exceptional New Zealand produce and export it to the world, with the benefits flowing back to local community,” said David Hope, Senior Manager Corporate and Institutional Business, Westpac New Zealand, which has had a 23-year relationship with the company.

Guided by Te Pae Tawhiti – a 500 year plan for success – which acknowledges that the wellness of the people is intrinsically linked to the wellbeing of the environment, Wakatū operates with the purpose that preserving the local area for future generations is everything.

Formed in 1977, with assets of $11 million, it hasn’t been without challenges. Today the business is going from strength to strength with a current value of over $300 million.

Left: Wakatū Incorporation oyster farming.
Right: Kerensa Johnston, Chief Executive Officer, Wakatū Incorporation.

Kerensa Johnston, Chief Executive Officer, Wakatū Incorporation, said: “During the past 25 years we have experienced significant growth in our property business as well as in horticulture and aquaculture. Kono, our food and beverage business has been key and we expect to see continued expansion over the next 20 years.”

“Having Westpac’s support and guidance during this time has been invaluable,” she said.

Based in Nelson in the north-west of South Island, Wakatū is owned by 4,000 descendants of the original Māori land owners of the Nelson, Tasman and Golden Bay Regions.

Wakatū is acutely aware that the way in which they farm today will have long-term ramifications. The company knows that to continue to prosper, the environment must be well and healthy, full of vitality and the love for the land and respect for the sea must be ever present.

The Westpac Group’s commitment to sustainability is something Wakatū values. Westpac New Zealand not only provides banking services for Wakatū but also assistance with export and hedging solutions and a range of funding facilities.

Wakatū Incorporation are sharing the wonderful produce of New Zealand’s South Island with the world through their food and beverage company, Kono.

“The Westpac New Zealand team are trusted advisers. Having that high level of trust is particularly important for a Māori business like ours,” said Kerensa.

David added: “We challenge each other’s thinking and I believe that’s why the relationship is so strong and has been so mutually successful.”

Westpac has a long standing commitment to supporting the growth of the Māori economy. Through our Te Kākano (the seed) framework, we are embedding the principles for effectively working with Māori and Iwi, embracing and driving inclusion and diversity to deliver a leading customer experience where we all grow and prosper.

Bank of New South Wales Wellington branch, New Zealand, 1861
The Bank of New South Wales (which became Westpac) opened its first branch in Nelson, New Zealand in February 1862. Inspired by New Zealand’s expanding wool industry, the Bank acquired five New Zealand branches from the Oriental Bank in 1861 and went on to open further branches including the one in Nelson. This was the start of 155 years of unbroken representation in New Zealand.

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