Sleepyhead signs agreement with Waikato-Tainui

Sleepyhead has signed an agreement with Waikato-Tainui to work together on the company's billion-dollar manufacturing and housing project in Ohinewai.

Article originally published on stuff.co.nz

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Sleepyhead (The Comfort Group and Ambury Properties) as well as representatives of different arms of Waikato-Tainui: including Ngā Muka Development, Waahi Whaanui Trust, Te Riu o Waikato and Waikato-Tainui executive.

On Wednesday they gathered on Sleepyhead’s 176-hectare site in Ohinewai where kaumātua opened with a karakia and leaders spoke about the project.

Company director Craig Turner thanked iwi for welcoming the company on to the land and settlement. “This is what partnership is all about,” he said.

“We see an opportunity for our family business and for the people here to set a new standard of manufacturing in New Zealand.”

Turner referred to an arrangement that has already started with Tainui’s economic development arm Te Riu o Waikato, whereby Waikato-Tainui workers from Huntly are getting employed in Sleepyhead’s factory.

“That’s been some of our proudest moments already to see the young people coming up from Huntly start working in our factory,” Turner said.

“We’ve got a few people that are already understanding the culture of our company.”

Te Riu o Waikato chair Tawera Nikau said the job opportunities coming with Sleepyhead’s plan were “really exciting”.

“We want all the people in our area to benefit from this development.”

The agreement showed intention from Sleepyhead to work collaboratively with iwi throughout the development of the project, Nikau said.

“We see an opportunity for our family business and for the people here to set a new standard of manufacturing in New Zealand.”

Brand new housing for Sleepyhead staff was a “fantastic” opportunity for Māori and will involve many discussions with the company as to how that will take shape.

At the moment Turner has meetings with iwi in Ohinewai about once a month, Nikau said.

Each arm of Waikato-Tainui who signed the agreement are primarily responsible for different areas: Ngā Muka Development focuses on the environment, Waahi Whaanui Trust on social services and Te Riu o Waikato on economic development.

Sleepyhead purchased 176 hectares of rural land in Ohinewai in August, with a plan to build a 100,000 square metre factory and 1100 home affordable housing community.

The company has said the project will house 3000 residents and create 2600 jobs.

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