Three cheers to this Rarotongan beer maker

Over the past few years, Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) has organised and led several investment missions to the Pacific Islands, which have resulted in a number of investments projects that are up and running. 

Cook Island beer makers Tuki Née Née and wife Ngatokorua.

While some of our participants invested in financial services and real estate, others have set up cattle fattening farms, virgin coconut oil processing and exports, fishing and marine businesses, engineering services and much else.

“It always takes a while to make new investments happen and when they do, it is a delight for us to share their stories,” says Manuel Valdez, PTI Chief Operating Officer and Head of Investment. This week, he shares with Pacific Periscope the story of a past participant of an investment mission to the Cook Islands who has now invested in a local brewery venture in Rarotonga.

Kiwi businessman Edward (Tuki) Née Née and his Cook Islander wife Ngatokorua (Took) have established a brewery on Cook Islands’ main island and national capital Rarotonga.  The couple share a passion for good quality beer. Also, since their kids have grown up, they saw a move to the more relaxed island life as a good opportunity to go back to their roots and invest in a more satisfying and rewarding business enterprise.

Rarotonga Brewery is the third iteration of the same brewing company that was brought to Rarotonga in the mid-1990s.  The brewing equipment was sold in 2010 to Tuki and Took who operated the brewing company for three years selling Cooks lager, before health and family issues caused them to close down and put the brewing equipment into storage.

Fast forward to 2016. A new partnership was forged with another Kiwi who is a well-known Guru of beer and another local businessman who has a long history of doing business in the Cook Islands. “The opportunity came up to lease what was known as the ‘Frangi’ building in Nikao and to re-establish there. We sold the old brewery plant and upgraded to a new, more efficient plant. The building was perfect for the purpose and with our new partners we knew that we could make this work really well,” Tuki says.

“While the brewing process has not changed in decades, the technological developments have been absolutely amazing especially in terms of temperature control. We have invested in this technology and this will enable us to make a great product consistently,” he adds.

Rarotonga Brewery is making just one product at present — a lager.  The brewery is producing more than 7000 liters a month and is growing constantly. They serve their customers by keg and tap delivery from bars and restaurants. They are also selling to the public in two-litre stainless steel Flagons that are double skinned with sealable lids. “These are a great product as well and could be a game changer in terms of the way people buy and carry their beer in the future,” Tuki says.

The establishment of a new partnership with Brett and Cavelle Porter and Stephen and Hayley Plowman who own Hallertau Brewery in River head North Auckland changed the course of the business. ‘The opportunity came up to lease what was known as the ‘ Frangi’ building in Nikao and to re-establish there.” says Tuki. “We sold the old brewery plant and upgraded to a new more efficient plant. The building was perfect for the purpose and with our new partners we knew that we could make this work really well.”

“While the brewing process has not changed in decades the technological developments have been absolutely amazing especially in terms of temperature control. We have invested in this technology and this will enable us to make a great product consistently.”
Rarotonga Brewery is making just one product at present, a lager. “The plan is to make and launch ale in January and a star fruit cider in February when that fruit season is in full swing.”

The brewery will be servicing its customers by Keg and tap delivery from bars and restaurants. They are also selling to the public in 2 litre stainless steel Flagons that are double skinned with sealable lids. “These are a great product as well and could be a game changer in terms of the way people buy and carry their beer in the future. By staying away from glass bottles it has become a better option for those who are weary and conscious of landfill waste. When you consider the logistics of getting a beer from Mexico or Italy or Japan or wherever and delivering it to a bar in Rarotonga for five or six bucks it is an amazingly efficient process. We know that in order to compete with that our job is to make a great beer that Visitors appreciate and our Locals are proud to call their own.”

Their mantra is to produce the best local beer in town. A few establishments on the island have already jumped at the opportunity to have this top quality craft beer on tap at their establishments. If you have a thirst and a taste for good beer, check out the Rarotonga Brewery opposite Oasis in Nikao or Trader Jacks, Vaiana’s and On the Rocks.

PTI can proudly say that we have been pleased to be part of their journey of increasing the inward investment in the Pacific Islands in general and Cook Islands in particular.  PTI-initiated investment missions bear fruit one way or another but it always takes a bit of time.

For more information, email to Manuel Valdez at manuel.v@pacifictradeinvest.co.nz

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