19 Apr 2018
With more than three decades of trading in the Pacific behind her, newly appointed PCF chair Nicole Metzger says the ease of doing business in the region is better than ever.
“With the connectivity the internet brings, it’s so much easier for New Zealand businesses to do actual business in the Pacific … and vice versa,” she says.
“It’s getting better in other ways, too, with the number of flights across the region increasing and shipping improving. It opens more opportunities for the bigger players to come here.”
Nicole, who has been on the board since 2009, recalls the “bad old days” when businesspeople needed to physically go to a trading office to get their customs entry stamped. Locating documents was also an issue. But it has never been enough to deter her from a career working the Pacific.
It started with her first job at Crosby Exports back in 1986, followed by a number of roles including Turners and Growers, where she was the Pacific Manager from 1995-2001. Nicole then started her own produce company, South Seas Produce, which was bought out by the NZ Hot House Group headed by Director Sir David Levene.
Nicole is still part of the organisation, looking after the Pacific Rim region which includes Canada, Japan, Taiwan, Australia and Singapore. Nicole still exports produce to nearly every Pacific Island.
She says the region was given a boost by the New Zealand Government’s agenda during the Pacific Reset Mission in Niue, Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands in March. A new law then followed relating to the portability of the New Zealand pension to the Realm countries of the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau, providing a significant boost to their respective economies.
It’s not the first time Nicole has seen first-hand the economic benefits from such initiatives, which is one of the many reasons why she believes a private sector presence on the PCF board is beneficial for all concerned.
“Those of us from the private sector know we have something to offer because we’re practitioners living it,” she says.
“It’s a good mix overall with the board, which is why I want to pay tribute to my predecessor Peter Kiely. He has done an excellent job as chair for the past eight years and has left big shoes to fill.”