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Aotearoa Fisheries rebrands to Moana New Zealand to deliver premium Kiwi seafood to the world

Seafood harvester and exporter Aotearoa Fisheries Ltd has a new name and look after undergoing a rebrand with Designworks. Now called Moana New Zealand, the Iwi-owned company hopes to create longstanding value in the delivery of seafood to markets across the world.

The rebrand coincided with the the start of Matariki on 6 June, which signals the dawn of new beginnings and a time to connect with and give thanks to the land, sea and sky. In turn, Moana, meaning ‘seafood’ in Maori, signalled a move from fisheries, which implies food processing, to premium seafood and direct connections with consumers.

New Zealand has the world’s most pristine and sustainability-managed fisheries according to chief executive Carl Carrington, who says the brand shares a “deep sense of responsibility” to its people and the Kaimoana to protect the environment for future generations.

“The new brand embodies this,” Carrington says. “And tells our story of true connection, true provenance, true to nature and true for generations.”

One of the ways Moana is showing its responsibility to the environment is through its investment in Precision Seafood Harvesting fishing (PSH). It replaces traditional nets, instead containing fish inside a flexible PVC tubular receptacle with holes that allow undersized fish to swim out. As well as bringing the fish on-board largely undamaged, the method also allows for better targeting of specific species and better tracking of when and where the fish was caught.

The Tiaki brand, in a partnership with Ministry for Primary Industries and Sanford, Sealord and Moana New Zealand, developed the way of thinking. When its fish become available in Auckland later this year it aims to use the tracking technology to give consumers information about when and where their fish was caught via a QR code.

Ministry for Primary Industries director-general Martyn Dunne said earlier this year that even though it is still being trialed, the method has already demonstrated huge potential.

“A lot of the industry players around the world are looking in at New Zealand and thinking this is wonderful.”

As well as the investment in PSH, Moana has also invested significantly in its supply chain assets including a new fleet of technologically advanced boats, featuring cameras. All fishers have been through Seabird Smart training.

The investment is part of its goal of being New Zealand’s premier seafood brand.  

Carrington says Moana New Zealand’s future is not about processing more, but about carefully harvesting and quickly getting to market a range of highly sought after species from the country’s coastal waters. The species include blue abalone, wild abalone, fin fish, lobster and oyster.

Last month, Moana celebrated the opening of the new lobster plant in conjunction with Port Nicholson Fisheries where live lobster will be processed and exported to Asia and largely China.

Lobster is the highest valued seafood that NZ exports internationally, however, chairman of Port Nicholson Fisheries Dion Tuuta says if you were to go to Asia, or China, you wouldn’t actually be able to find New Zealand lobster.

He says it is marketed as Australasian lobster and is confused a lot of the time with product that comes out of Australia.

One of the key strategies Moana and Port Nicholson Fisheries want to develop at the plant is a Maori and New Zealand branded lobster to protect the country’s position as source of premium lobster.

When working on the Moana New Zealand rebrandDesignworks pulled colours from nature and seafood and sourced inspiration from the concept of ‘mauri’, meaning ‘life source’.

Creative director Jef Wong says the team consulted with a Maori advisor at AUT and he raised the idea of mauri when talking about how all indigenous people around the word have a belief that everything is connected.

As a result, the video aims to show the connection between the people of Moana New Zealand, the places they fish and harvest and the kaimoana they share sustainably with the world.

When working on the strategy, some of the Designworks team went to the different plants and Wong says they found they were travelling around the “the most beautiful place with a natural abundance of seafood” and they wanted the overseas audience to feel like they were there themselves.

The idea was then created to make the brand visually rich and with immersive imagery. This is shown in the video and the website itself, with all imagery sourced from the in house photographer.

Wong says when people visit the website, the welcome screen is all immersive and in the video the images are used to do most of the talking.

Taking advantage of New Zealand’s landscapes is typical for brands looking to promote products offshore and it’s a strategy Wong says Designworks has been involved with before. He says the agency has been involved in so many New Zealand brands and New Zealand story-telling and each time there is a challenge to make it unique and different.

“We don’t want to do just lovely landscape shots, we want them to have some difference and some different point of view on the imagery.”

According to Westpac’s Industry Insights released March this year, marketing New Zealand seafood is generally undertaken by each business that exports and each is looking build its own brand.

However, it suggests marketing dollars from a small player like New Zealand might go further if pooled together.

“Joint certification and / or a marketing campaign that emphasises the premium value of New Zealand seafood products may be more effective than the current fragmented approach.”

It says the opportunity is not to replace individual brands with a single brand, but rather a consistent labelling and marketing approach that would help export consumers understand the value of New Zealand-caught or farmed approach.

The fragmented approach has reduced New Zealand’s ability to extract premium for seafood products, and to introduce new species to the international market.

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