Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 45, September 2001

When Chinese businessmen came looking for investment opportunities in New Zealand in 1994, it was the clean, green image of the country and its water quality that they were interested in. After a helicopter ride over the area they were shown the empty and vandalised dairy factory building in Lee Avenue, Paeroa and, realising its potential, decided to purchase it and set up a drink manufacturing plant in the town.

Production commenced in 1996 and the original plant was recently replaced by new Italian machinery and a new Australian made packing plant. The upgrading of the building in 2000 included the closing in of the manufacturing plant with walls and windows and the painting of walkways on the floors, thus making a safe area for the public to view the working plant from.

A function was held at the Paeroa factory on Tuesday 19 September 2000 and the upgraded facilities were opened by Prime Minister Helen Clark. Other dignitaries included Mr Zhou, the Chinese Consul General for New Zealand, Hauraki District Mayor, Basil Morrison and Mr Li Jing Wei, Chairman of Directors and Chief Executive Officer of Guangdong Jianlibao Group and the founder of Kiwi Bottlers 96 Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Jianlibao Holdings (NZ) Co Ltd, the owners of the building.

Kiwi Bottlers 96 Ltd produces soft drinks in the Kiwi and Zest brands, in 18 flavours and the company produces 800,000 tonnes of drink a year. The Paeroa factory is the only manufacturing plant that the Hong Kong-based Guangdong Jianlibao Group operates outside of China. What the company produced in its first year of operation, it now produces in a month. The drinks are sold all around New Zealand and about 75% is exported overseas, to most cities in Australia and to Macau. In addition to their own two brands, the Paeroa plant contract packs other companies products.

This is the only 100%-owned Chinese company operating outside of China.