Blanche Morrogh, CEO of Kai Ora Honey, Kiwi chef Peter Gunn and Australian TV presenter Catriona Rowntree at an event for New Zealand’s trade mission to Australia. Photo/ Photograph of white chilli.
One of the Far North’s most innovative entrepreneurs has just returned home from a whirlwind trade mission to Australia with the Prime Minister of New Zealand.
Kai Ora Honey and Hāna Botanicals CEO and owner Blanche Morrogh of Ahipara was one of 31 New Zealand business owners to join Prime Minister and Tourism Minister Stuart Nash on the trip to Australia last week.
The New Zealand trade mission was the first such trip to Australia for Prime Minister Ardern since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, curtailing plans for a trade mission in June 2021.
The purpose of the visit was to advance the business interests of the members of the delegation, broadly promote trans-Tasman ties and improve the overall quality of New Zealand’s trade relationship with Australia.
From humble beginnings in Te Hapua in a home without electricity or gravity-fed water, Morrogh grew his Kai Ora Honey business into a manuka honey empire.
The company now exports around 60 tonnes of honey each year and sells a range of products including salad dressings, cooking oils and seasonings.
Recognizing the demand for natural skincare, Morrogh has also recently added to its business portfolio by introducing Hāna Botanicals, which now sells skincare products in countries around the world.
The mother-of-two said she was still abuzz after the once-in-a-lifetime business mission and said it fueled her desire to push even harder for better innovation and collaboration in Te Taitokerau’s business sector. .
“I’m really proud to have been able to represent Northland’s quality food and beverage over the past week,” said Morrogh.
“I started the week feeling like a little ant among giants, but came away feeling valued and belonging.
“Significant opportunities have also opened up as a result of this trip and I look forward to sharing these opportunities with more Northland businesses locally.”
Morrogh said she had big plans for the area, which, while seemingly ambitious, were not in her view unachievable.
She said laying the groundwork for innovation, in particular, will position the community to continue to grow in the future.
“A big lesson to take away from this journey is that to successfully move forward, we need more innovative collaboration across businesses so that we can all survive and thrive,” Morrogh said.
“When people think of innovation, they think of science labs and such, but it’s so much more than that.
“For example, there are so many amazing companies in the Far North that offer unique products and services, but the cost of entering the market as a single entity can often be a barrier.
“Through innovative collaboration, we can stop working in silos and do things like use the same single license, share the cost of a single export office, and scale and price competitively without leaving Northland.”
Morrogh said new free trade agreements with Australia and the European Union should also benefit New Zealand businesses, as demand for Kiwi products is secured under the new agreements.
Sustainable and innovative businesses would also be key predictors of future success, according to Morrogh, who reiterated the need for Northland business owners to ensure they are not left behind in the race to stay competitive and relative.
A spokesperson for New Zealand Trade Enterprise said that in looking at which companies to choose for the visit, they looked at several key themes, including what the company was doing on sustainability.
“Blanche and her fellow business owners were selected based on the overall theme of the trade mission, which is to connect, collaborate and innovate,” the spokesperson said.
“We looked at whether they already had strong established relationships in Australia and/or the potential to further develop lasting relationships by being part of the traveling delegation.
“In terms of collaboration, among other things, we looked at companies that had previously shown a willingness to collaborate with NZTE.
“For innovation, companies had to have a strong innovation component and an ambition to innovate their offering (product, business model, approach or process) specific to the Australian market.”
According to the NZTE, the Australian public/consumers and businesses are also paying increasing attention to sustainability and how it unfolds on a day-to-day as well as long-term basis.
They said of this aspect, “Kai Ora Honey and Blanche were perfectly fine.”
The delegation traveled to Sydney and Melbourne for various events including the Discover New promotion where, in partnership with David Jones, 25 New Zealand mainstream brands were showcased online and in DJ’s flagship store Sydney on Elizabeth St.
The group also took part in the recognition and celebration of NAIDOC Week – a week-long national celebration of the history and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The following New Zealand companies participated in the recent trade mission to Australia:
Banker (financial education)
Firmsy (legal industry software)
Groov (mental health wellness)
Cogo (carbon management)
Chnnl (mental health wellness)
The Mind Lab (education)
Mint Innovation (Clean technologies)
Tourism and events
Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA)
Business Events Industry Aotearoa (BEIA)
New Zealand Maori Tourism
Food and drinks
Kia Ora Honey
OKU herbal teas
Reefton Distilling Co. (producer of Little Biddy Gin)
The Pure Food Co.
Van Dyck Fine Foods
Services & Infrastructure
Warren and Mahoney
Investment and venture capital