Sealord was established in 1961 but its whakapapa goes back to the creation legend of Māui and culminates in the recognition of Māori interests through the 50 percent ownership of Sealord by 57 iwi through the Sealord Settlement.

Sealord compares its story to a rope into which individuals bind their skills and passion to create a unique business, where its heritage is recognised and proudly shared with the world. The Sealord corporate identity was a collaborative effort between its people, leaders and artist Derek Lardelli to create a taonga that represents the company’s attitude and aspirations. It also highlights the relationship between people, sea and land, and its responsibility as guardians to maintain that crucial balance.

Sustainability and the provenance of seafood harvested from some of the world’s most pristine oceans are important selling points in Sealord’s export markets. Adding the layer of Sealord’s ownership by the indigenous people of New Zealand – with the associated focus on growth, prosperity and sustainability – is a vital point of difference. Sealord’s history and values help position it in a way that is distinct from its competitors.

For its customers and partners, the acknowledgement of the cultural significance of the sea, and Sealord’s view that fishing quota is taonga, is proof of its authentic approach to sustainability.

Being a Māori business has helped Sealord develop partnerships to take more kaimoana to the world. The Ihu to Mai programme is successfully establishing joint ventures and quota purchase deals with several iwi. The programme increases Sealord’s long-term access to quota and influences the way fishing assets are sustainably utilised for iwi. The deals also include scholarships to the Westport Deepsea Fishing School, and training and development opportunities.

In an export context, these initiatives allow iwi shareholders to maximise the return from their fishing quota allocation, and for these assets to be exported around the world, under the Sealord banner.

“What makes Sealord unique is our combined ownership. The company is 50 percent owned on behalf of the Māori people of New Zealand and 50 percent by Japanese fishing giant Nissui. The two cultures are complementary with their focus on the long term and looking after our resources. In terms of international growth, the values associated with our long history are a point of difference, along with the expression of our brand through the taonga that is our logo and corporate identity.”

Matanuku Mahuika, Chairman Sealord Group Ltd