Everitt wins top job at Wakatu's Kono NZ
Nelson businessman and former seafood industry executive Don Everitt has been appointed as the inaugural chief executive officer of Wakatu Incorporation's subsidiary food and beverage company, Kono NZ LP.
He will head the wine, fruit and seafood production and export division of the large Nelson corporation. The property division, which is a separate wholly owned subsidiary of Wakatu, will remain in the care of leasehold and land manager Iain Sheves, while former Wakatu chief executive Keith Palmer will act in an advisory role, Wakatu chairman Paul Morgan said.
The announcement comes in the wake of Mr Palmer's resignation in the middle of the year, which prompted the corporation to start searching for a new boss.
Mr Morgan said the recruitment process had allowed Wakatu to re-shape its management structure and place people in lead positions in charge of each subsidiary.
He said the vacancy attracted wide interest from around New Zealand and further afield and Wakatu was pleased that Mr Everitt, a local man, had secured the role as Kono chief executive.
It also valued the ongoing input of Mr Palmer who had a great deal of institutional knowledge.
"He will remain as a consultant adviser as we have a lot of development in the pipeline. We're happy to secure Keith's ongoing support," Mr Morgan said.
Mr Everitt, who has been running his own business consultancy since early last year, has a long history of marketing and exporting of New Zealand products.
The former head of New Zealand King Salmon marketing, sales and distribution, and former Sealord marketing manager said he was looking forward to working for a corporation with a strong culture of family ownership.
Mr Everitt has a degree in marketing and economics from Lincoln University, and has a strong background in consumer marketing as well as research, science and technology strategies.
Wakatu Incorporation was formed in 1977 with an $11 million asset base of mainly land, and has grown into a $250m property, food and beverage business and export company. It has more than 3000 owners who descend from the original Maori land owners of the Nelson, Tasman, Golden Bay region.
Kono was formed in 2011 and employs more than 350 staff. It farms more than 500 hectares of land and sea and exports to more than 25 countries. Its focus is on high-quality wine, fruit and seafood including local wine brands Tohu and Aronui wines.
Mr Everitt said Wakatu evoked an "interesting culture" of Maori values and support from those who worked for the corporation.
"There's a sense there of everyone pulling together, which I like," Mr Everitt said.
His role would be to develop Kono's marketing side, which was a bigger challenge in today's highly competitive environment.
He said Kono had already developed a good brand platform, but the challenge ahead would be gaining an understanding of how consumers perceive them, and understanding what they want.
"It's a big opportunity to get into an organisation that's already expressed intent to become internationalised."
Mr Everitt described Wakatu as a leading Maori-owned organisation, which had emerged because of openness for collaboration.
- © Fairfax NZ News