Research & Development

Ngati Porou Seafoods invests heavily in Research & Development as you would expect from a business with a vision extending generations ahead. Seafood research is a key driver of our innovation, success and growth. 


We use science along the entire value chain in combination with market research to conceptualize and commercialize new production systems, products and services. 

When we combine these with our matauranga as Ngati Porou we find novel ways of doing things that science alone might not lead us to as we improve quality, innovation and food safety. 

Our R&D programmes aim to produce optimal quality seafood products with improved shelf life and an “enhanced environmental impact” – one that improves the health of the ocean. It is not acceptable to us just to slow or maintain the decline.

As Ngati Porou we aim to show respect for seafood we harvest. We search for high-value uses for as high a proportion of each fish as possible.

When we sell fish in areas which are predominantly Ngati Porou, we sell far more whole fish than fillets. Ngati Porou has a culture of eating whole fish, and we make use of every part of every fish we catch. We are horrified when we see good food – especially seafood – go to waste.

To put it in commercial terms –waste is something we pay for but do not sell. It’s not good business.

Ngati Porou MSc and Honours graduates in a variety of fields occupy key technical positions within Ngati Porou Fisheries. We encourage these people – and all of our staff – to combine their skills and experience with lateral thinking to innovate, and to question the status quo.

Much of our R&D work is committed to the development of NPFL's own technology and solutions as well as offering support for regional development and sustainable resource management nationally. Increasingly we are active internationally also, especially alongside other indigenous cultures.

In addition to our in-house research and development, Ngati Porou Fisheries works closely with other companies, research institutes and universities nationally and internationally.


NPFL’s research portfolio focuses on four main areas:

  1. Production Systems 
    NPFL conducts research on aquaculture as a means to both sustainably grow fish stocks and augment our wild catch. We also look to develop new harvest technologies to support sustainable resource management in the wild catch sector and improve quality in both aquaculture and wild catch.
  2. Processing, preservation and distribution technology
    NPFL actively looks for new technology to improve the way we process, package, and transport fresh and frozen seafood so our products will reach our customers in the best possible condition.
  3. Marine Biotechnology
    NPFL uses marine biotechnology – often inspired by natural marine processes – to search for new ways to make use of every part of the fish and shellfish we harvest. Here we look at both by-products already available, and also new marine species to produce healthy foods, nutraceuticals, food ingredients, stock feeds and cosmetics. We are probably one of the only indigenous tribes to own our own hospital, and we look for new ways to improve dressings and health outcomes in partnership with this.
  4. Consumer and Market Research
    Consumer and market research at NPFL focuses on four main themes:
    1. Markets and market development.
    2. Purchasing behaviour and demand patterns.
    3. Market-based product development, including identification of new species.
    4. Environmental certification.

Our objective here is to improve our company’s ability to develop new products, to access and develop new markets and to improve our communication with seafood lovers. We want to respond to market pull rather than product push.

“Stanford Bootcamp has been a great focus for the potential to work together with other iwi on food health education. It’s all intertwined and that’s an important part of our story – it’s not just about fish, it’s about us as a people.

“The unique thing about Ngati Porou is that we can now look at developing products from seafood that will help the health of our people. We are one of the few iwi that own our own hospital and health clinics, so we naturally have a health focus. We have looked at seafood bandages and the health benefits of omega3 are well-known. We can also align with our sheep and beef farming, and also with our forestry, which could be a natural source of energy from biofuels for land-based aquaculture. This business ties in well with our other businesses – meat, wine, horticulture.

“We are probably the only Maori fishing company which has a dedicated R&D guy. Marc Ferris is becoming a leading authority on aquaculture in New Zealand. He’s on a secondment to Callaghan Innovations. Ken Houkamau went to the US as part of a delegation of food producers. They are seeing a much bigger picture of the potential for growth in the food industry through science.

“I don’t mind if we train people up and they take other opportunities because wherever Natis are in the world, if they have the skills and we can make use of them, we will.” 

Mark Ngata
Chief executive
Ngati Porou Seafoods Group.