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New Zealand marine industry hits $3 billion

by Caroline Gibson, NZ Marine 17 Aug 20:09 PDT 18 August 2023
Catalyst 45 - one of several America's Cup and Superyacht tenders built in New Zealand by Lloyd Stevenson Boats - Chase Boat - Alinghi Red Bull Racing - LEQ12/AC40 - Day 48 - August 9 , 2023 - Barcelona © Alex Carabi / America's Cup

The marine industry is now worth $3 billion annually to the New Zealand economy, achieving around $2.2 billion in local sales, and $800 million in exports.

This was among new statistics that showed the size and growth of the industry released at the recent NZ Marine industry conference by Executive Director Peter Busfield.

Other new statistics showed the number of apprentices in boatbuilding and related trades has reached 650, and more than 5500 boats are expected to be built this year — the vast majority trailer boats between 3.5 and 8m.

“These are exciting times, and no doubt some major developments lie ahead,” says Busfield. “One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is how much Kiwis value their boating healthy lifestyle — 1.9 million people are regularly out on the water making boating New Zealand’s most popular recreational activity. Our industry is in good heart, and we’re ready to push ahead into the future and build on our tradition of innovation and success.”

More than 130 people involved in the industry, from throughout New Zealand and Australia, came together in Tauranga in August for two days of presentations, panel discussions, networking, and brainstorming focusing on what boating and the marine industry will look like in 2034. Attendees brought with them innovative ideas, and the conference vibe demonstrated the New Zealand marine industry is in good heart and is facing an exciting future.

In opening the conference, President Garry Lock said, it was great to finally have so many of the industry gathered to celebrate successes and look into the future.

“Although we have remained a tight group throughout all the disruptions of the past few years, it was fantastic to finally be back together in one place, talking about all aspects of our industry,” Lock says. “This year we had a real focus on sharing ideas and talking about the common challenges we face and opportunities — coming up with some innovative solutions to take the industry strongly into the future.”

Keynote speakers at the event included Darren Vaux, president of the International Council of Marine Industry Associations, and Andrew Fielding, president of Australia’s Boating Industry Association, who shared valuable insights from a global perspective. There was also great interest in a panel session by representatives of marine companies active in the alternative power-source field, such as hydrogen and electric power, and new exciting boating forms such as foiling.

“For many companies, these technologies are going to be the way of the future, so it was interesting to hear what’s already happening and what might lie ahead,” Busfield said.

That focus on the future was also evident in the ‘Boating in 2034’ breakout session, where delegates were tasked with brainstorming challenges around key issues affecting the future of the industry, such as the impacts of political, environmental, and economic issues, generational changes in boating use, and opportunities provided by new technologies and manufacturing methods.

“Some of the key themes coming through were an increase in boat-sharing, syndication or chartering for recreational use, increasing use of technology on board to enhance the boating experience, and environmental awareness,” says Busfield. “The new generation of boaties want quick and easy access to go boating, cleaner power sources, and sustainable build materials in the boats they are using. They are also interested in maximising technology to achieve those goals.”

Also at the conference, NZ Marine presented its international and local events and promotions planned for the next 12 months, ensuring export and local sales growth opportunities for New Zealand manufacturers.

The industry is also facing technological changes in manufacturing processes, which will mean its 100%-owned Marine and Specialised Technology Academy training arm (MAST Academy) will continue to provide state-of-the-art industry-led apprenticeship training, providing good career pathways for school leavers and older learners alike.

The NZ marine industry is world-leading in many aspects, and the 520 member companies of the NZ Marine Industry Association continue to collaborate and work together to pioneer new boatbuilding methods and indeed new forms of boating.

The event was made possible through the support of the following companies:

Headline sponsors: Abbott Insurance Brokers and MAST Academy Supporting sponsors: Onfire Design, Electronic Navigation Ltd, Yessss Ltd, Manaaki Marine, Tenob Marine, Boating New Zealand Magazine, RSM New Zealand, Altex Yacht & Boat Paint, Q-West Boat Builders, NZ Marine Export Group.

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