Signing confirms Golden Bay community gains from new mussel farms

Papers signed last week finalise a 20-year process for Golden Bay residents to benefit from new mussel farms.

The documents formalise the agreement to transfer 160 hectares of marine farming water space to the local community from the SMW Consortium (Sealord, MacLab, and Westhaven Group) to the Golden Bay Community Trust.

In seeking consent for its 1000 hectare farm nearly two decades ago, SMW committed to give space to local residents. The signed agreements confirm the income from 160 hectares will be used to support environmental, education, health and other charitable causes in Golden Bay.

Trust chair, local businessman Tom Sturgess and fellow trustee Bob Butts and his wife Joan, formed the agreement with SMW for a Golden Bay Trust to administer the assets and funds generated.

Further benefits are also provided to iwi, who gained 20% of the approved water space.

The farms are sited 5.5 kilometres off Parapara and the first lines are already in the water. The first crop of greenshell mussels is expected to be ready for harvest from late next year.

MacLab director Andrew Broadbent says it’s exciting for farming to be underway after a long, costly and challenging journey.

“From the start we backed the idea of Golden Bay people seeing the benefits of developed water space flowing widely through their community. We are looking forward to setting a benchmark for sustainable and responsible marine farming.’’

Tom Sturgess has already given the Golden Bay community a taste of the benefits by funding close to $100,000 in grants that the Trust has distributed over the last two years. In future, the Trust will provide grants from its growing revenue stream as the water space is progressively developed.

“This has been a lot of years in the making,” says Tom. “The Idea that the community gains direct benefit from the use of its water space feels right. I’m delighted we are aligned with industry players who saw the benefit of investing back in their community.”


The Aquaculture Management Area 2 Puramakau was approved late last year, some 20 years after resource consent applications were first made.

It had been designated as an AMA by the Tasman Resource Management Plan overseen by the Tasman District Council, TDC.

The aquaculture provisions of the Plan saw a comprehensive Environment Court inquiry under Judge Shonagh Kenderdine who embraced the concept of the Golden Bay community benefiting from growth in the aquaculture industry.

SMW Consortium is made up of the following parties:

  • Sealord which is Nelson-based, jointly owned by Maori through Moana New Zealand (Aotearoa Fisheries Ltd), and global seafood company Nippon Suisan Kaisha, Ltd (Nissui).
  • Nelson-based MacLab farms green-lipped mussels and uses a unique proprietary process in its nutraceutical factory to process them into the key raw material in market-leading marine oils including Lyprinol and Antinol.
  • Westhaven Group representing Westhaven Shellfish, a Golden-Bay based company which has been harvesting, processing and exporting Littleneck Clams all over the world for more than 30 years; Wakatū Resources, part of Wakatū Incorporation whose 4,000 owners descend from the whānau and hapū of the Whakatū, Motueka and Mōhua rohe. It has grown from an $11 million asset base in 1977, to a current value of over $350 million; Bluff Oyster Farms Limited; Peter and Elizabeth Brierley

The Maori Commercial Aquaculture Settlement Claims Act enabled Iwi to apply for and subsequently obtain resource consents for 20% of recently approved water space. Iwi have secured this water space in Golden Bay and are pursuing its development via a number of options.

SMW Consortium’s initial resource consent application for 1000 hectares saw iwi gain 200 hectares. Of the remaining 800 hectares, 20% (160ha) will be developed to fund the Golden Bay Community Trust.

The Trust’s aims are: “To enhance environmental ecosystems, build community connections, further the education and improve the health and wellbeing of Golden Bay residents.” Eligible purposes which can be funded by the Trust include:

  • The education and wellbeing of children and whanau who are residents of Golden Bay and who are financially or socially disadvantaged, or physically or mentally challenged.
  • The relief of poverty.
  • The provision of services to meet the educational, wellbeing, emotional and spiritual needs of the community or individuals.
  • The care and welfare of the elderly and infirm, physically and mentally challenged.
  • The provision of medical facilities, equipment and services, facilities and opportunities for artistic, cultural and sporting endeavours.
  • The preservation and protection of the environment.

The trustees for the Golden Bay Community Trust are: Tom Sturgess, chair, Bob Butts, Dorje Strang, David Lyttle, Andy Wotton

The Trust appoints a Distribution Committee, all permanent residents of the Golden Bay Community. Robin Manson, Carolyn McLellan, Laurie Davidson, Chairman, Helen Bracefield, Neil Wilson and Dr Tracey Osborne. This committee assesses applications for funding and makes recommendations to the Trust.

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Factory Work

Location: Nelson / Tasman

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MacLab leads the way in the nutraceutical market. We use sustainable practices to farm mussels in the top of the South for processing into high value products at our modern factory in Tahunanui. Our culture provides a great place to work where our people are valued, work is enjoyable and rewarding. As we ramp up our operations, we are seeking enthusiastic people to join our team in our Nelson factory.

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If you are keen to be a valued team member of a successful company, please submit your application online or email to with Factory Work as a reference.