No buyer for troubled mapping company

MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 08:28 04/09/2014

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A company that has carried out the country's aerial mapping for 78 years went into liquidation yesterday after receivers could not find a buyer.

NZ Aerial Mapping was put into receivership in July after running out of cash, with $1.5 million in payments outstanding from contracts in Saudi Arabia.

Receiver John Fisk, of Price WaterhouseCoopers, said hopes of finding a buyer had been dashed and staff were yesterday advised that trading would cease once existing work had been completed.

Fifteen of the Hastings-based company's 22 staff were made redundant yesterday afternoon. Seven have been kept on to complete work and assist with the sale.

The company's assets, including five aircraft and several properties, will now be offered for sale on a break up basis.

Mr Fisk said the company's financial position ''had deteriorated over the last three years as a result of trading losses and was unable to raise capital to meet its funding requirements''.

The Hastings-based company was formed in 1936 and is considered a leader in aerial photography throughout the country and abroad.

In 2010, it was contracted by the governments of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to accurately mark out and map their shared border.

Fisk would not say who or which companies had failed to pay.

''Given we are still working through a process to see if we can recover amounts due under the contracts, we are unable to provide further details at this stage,'' he said.

The company's aircraft have worked throughout New Zealand, Australia, the Pacific, Asia, Africa, Antarctica, the

Middle East and Europe, and the company holds a library of more than a million New Zealand images, dating from 1936.

The company was founded by Henry Drury Piet van Asch (1911-1996), who is credited with creating the aerial mapping industry in this country.

A colourful character who is said to have met the Duchess of Bedford - a British aerial pioneer - and danced with Jean Batten, he learned to fly in Hawke's Bay  and founded New Zealand Aerial Mapping in late 1935.

The company's photographs have played vital roles in everything from archaeology to town planning and search and rescue.

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- The Dominion Post

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