Auckland’s bulging urban limits have led to the creation of a new industrial hub in what was once considered an economic backwater in the northern Waikato.
The rural township of Kerepehi is experiencing an unprecedented growth spurt as an industrial hub – with a large chunk of the town zoned to accommodate a light industry premises and plant.
Kerepehi’s resurgence has been spearheaded by the purchase of a derelict dairy factory by Chinese-owned Allied Faxi Food Company in 2014.
Over the ensuing 18 months, the plant has been converted into an export-focused ice cream manufacturing plant. It currently employs 15 staff sourced from the townships of Kerepehi, Ngatea, Paeroa and Thames, with plans to ramp up workforce numbers to 50 by the end of the year as offshore demand for product grows.
Some 23 vacant industrial building sites immediately opposite the dairy factory were tagged as future development opportunities by pro-business Hauraki District Council, which worked with the land owner to attract new businesses into the area.
Of those 23 original sites, seven have subsequently sold. The sections - ranging in size from 2020 square metres up to 12,392 square metres – have been sold through Bayleys Hamilton.
Commercial and industrial sales specialist Josh Smith said much of the credit for the rapid occupation of Kerepihi industrial park lay squarely with Hauraki District Council - which invested an initial $9 million upgrading Kerepehi’s water treatment plant to accommodate the forecast industrial growth in the food processing sector.
Mr Smith said the council had added a further substantial lure to attract new businesses to the town – with the removal of development contribution fees, making it cheaper for developers to build new premises, and those cost-savings consequently being passed on to incoming tenants or owner/occupiers.
“Hauraki District Council has taken some bold and innovative moves to attract new business to the region, and that’s a strategy which has certainly paid off. Employment has grown, and economic activity in the region has grown through the on-going building and construction project work being undertaken,” he said.
“While location is important for business relocating – both in terms of sourcing labour and getting product to market – cash flow is equally as crucial. Money talks – and every dollar saved through the removal of development contribution fees goes directly into the relocation budget.”
Kerepehi sits in the middle of what has been termed New Zealand’s ‘gold triangle’ – the catchment area stretched between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.
Since Allied Faxi Food took up residence in Kerepehi industrial park as an anchor tenant, four other industrial companies have followed suit.
One of the neighbouring businesses is Home timber structural manufacturer Pohutakawa Frames and Trusses which employs 23 staff. Its products are transported to Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga which are all experiencing sustained residential property building booms.
Mr Smith said Bayleys was currently in negotiation with four other companies looking to buy development land and relocate to the Kerepehi industrial block
“Building consents are now with the council for the potential construction of new premises to house thesebusinesses.”
“Proposed structures range from large steel and aluminium framed warehousing and logistics facilities, through to specialised workshops and design/builds.