Element - - Solar -

AgriSea pro­vides work for some of the coun­try’s poor­est and most re­mote com­mu­ni­ties.

Its business is turn­ing seaweed into fer­tiliser and soil-con­di­tion­ing prod­ucts, and that means hav­ing peo­ple col­lect it from the shore to send to its pro­cess­ing plants in Gis­borne and Paeroa.

Co-founder Jill Bradley says fam­ily and com­mu­nity are built into the fam­ily owned business. “We will only have other fam­i­lies who live in re­mote coastal ar­eas, we don’t want mid­dle men, and peo­ple need to be paid prop­erly. It’s a well-paid in­dus­try from the beach up be­cause we want qual­ity.”

Agrisea has a fam­ily friendly staff pol­icy that en­cour­ages par­ents to spend time with their chil­dren and pays a liv­ing wage, not the min­i­mum wage. The re­sult is com­mit­ted, tal­ented staff and con­stant im­prove­ment in business sys­tems.

Bradley says she and hus­band Keith got into the business “by mis­take” 20 years ago after they wanted to grow food for their fam­ily and be­came in­ter­ested in seaweed fer­tiliser.

They gave up well-paid teach­ing jobs, “held hands and jumped off the cliff.”

Agrisea is now the mar­ket leader, sup­ply­ing prod­ucts for plant health, pas­ture health and an­i­mal health, in­clud­ing two thirds of the coun­try’s vine­yards and a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of dairy farms.

Bradley says sus­tain­abil­ity in­cludes look­ing after com­mu­ni­ties.

“We put into those com­mu­ni­ties, par­tic­u­larly in Te Whanau a Apanui. We spon­sor chil­dren whose par­ents don’t have a lot of money to the Bay of Plenty Poly­tech­nic to be­come marine sci­en­tists.”

It also spon­sors the En­vi­roschools’ Maori li­ai­son per­son, and is the sole fun­der of a six-year re­search project at Wai­hau Bay on the en­vi­ron­men­tal ef­fects of seaweed wild har­vest on the marine coastal eco-sys­tem.

Sus­tain­abil­ity for AgriSea un­der­pins ev­ery business decision, in­clud­ing its vi­sion to be­come a main­stream op­tion for the hor­ti­cul­tural and agri­cul­tural sec­tors by 2020.

This award is spon­sored by The Univer­sity of Waikato Man­age­ment School.

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