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Eastland Group’s Strong Year Supports Regional Resilience In Tairāwhiti

  • Returned a record $12.3 million to shareholder Trust Tairāwhiti
  • $18.5 million in profit
  • $670.4 million total asset value
  • Helped keep the region running through COVID-19

Regional infrastructure, energy and logistics company Eastland Group, which is headquartered in Gisborne, has had another strong year.

They recorded a profit of $18.5 million, which was down on 2019’s record but is still the second highest that Eastland Group has achieved. The return of $12.3 million to sole shareholder Trust Tairāwhiti, meanwhile, was a new record.

And that’s despite the impacts of COVID-19 being felt during the last two months of the financial year.

A joint statement by chief executive Matt Todd and chair Matanuku Mahuika said:

“These results, at a time of such uncertainty, are a testament to the hard work and collaboration of our staff, customers, contractors and the whole community. By keeping essential infrastructure running, and providing another excellent return to Trust Tairāwhiti, Eastland Group is helping to support regional resilience.”

The year in review

Eastland Group’s income for 2020 was a record $111.7 million, with the ports sector contributing 34%, generation 20% and networks 33% of the total.

Although bad weather caused unprecedented shipping delays - then COVID-19 affected the global supply chain - Eastland Port exported 2,890,730 tonnes of cargo. They also set several records. In December, ISO’s first full month managing all wharfside operations, Eastland Port hit a new one day cart-in record. This was followed with a new export record of 322,000 tonnes in a single month.

Te Ahi O Maui geothermal power plant had its first full year of operation. The generation portfolio, which includes Te Ahi O Maui, Geothermal Developments Ltd (GDL) and the Waihi hydro scheme, generated a total of 258 GWh of electricity.

Eastland Network had another steady year. The total energy supplied was 311 GWh and the total energy distributed was 283 GWh, slightly up on 2019. Total connections were 25,732, with 19,679 domestic consumers and 6,053 non-domestic consumers.

The first stage of Gisborne Airport’s new terminal, a project co-funded by the Provincial Growth Fund, Trust Tairāwhiti and Eastland Group, opened late last year.

“It’s an honour to partner with Ngai Tāwhiri on this important regional project,” said Mr Todd. “The feedback from the community has been fantastic and we look forward to opening the full terminal later this year. It will be an important economic enabler as flight and passenger numbers continue to rebound post-COVID-19.”

COVID-19 impacts

Until early February, Eastland Group’s year was tracking largely as planned with all sectors performing solidly. By the end of March, New Zealand was in Alert Level 4 Lockdown.

All of Eastland Group’s three sectors were in whole or part essential businesses and had to be kept operating.

The port was technically open for the small number of kiwifruit and squash ships, but there were no logging ships. The airport was shut and all scheduled flights had stopped.

Eastland Network focused on keeping the power on for the community while they were safely at home in their bubbles. Both Eastland Network and Eastland Generation continued to deliver revenue.

“After the COVID-19 lockdown all our sectors have recovered more strongly than forecast, although no-one can predict what will happen in the medium to long-term,” said Mr Todd.

“This resilience is a direct result of the company’s strategy over many years to achieve industry as well as geographic diversity. Eastland Group’s diversified portfolio has helped us weather the storm and play an active role in underpinning regional recovery.”

People and community

In October, Eastland Group welcomed two new board members: Wendie Harvey and Jon Nichols.

Eastland Group and Trust Tairāwhiti continued to support the Mates of Tairāwhiti workplace suicide prevention programme, which has now been rolled out to dozens of businesses and more than 1,000 employees across the region.

Eastland Group‘s Mind Matters staff programme was recognised at the Deloitte Energy Excellence Awards, where it won the Wellbeing Award.

The company and staff supported a range of community, student and environmental projects and events.

The Port built and opened a new walking track around the base of Titirangi. They also opened the new wharfside storage yard, after giving the community the chance to explore behind the scenes at WharfWheels.

And the Network sponsored the Eastland Network Science and Technology Fair for the second time.

Planning for a sustainable future

Eastland Port continue to develop plans for future-proofing their infrastructure and diversifying the products they service, including exploring the opportunities offered by containerisation.

Eastland Network, Eastland Generation and Eastland Group are investigating all the ways Tairāwhiti might be powered – sustainably - in the future.

Together with the Trust, Eastland Group joined the Climate Leaders Coalition and are working to measure and reduce their emissions.

A beneficial model

Trust Tairāwhiti Chairperson Dr Paul Reynolds congratulated everyone at Eastland Group for another successful year, and for their contribution towards the region’s response to COVID-19.

“The past few months have been completely unlike anything anyone has experienced before. It’s a credit to the team at Eastland Group that they have continued to operate key regional infrastructure, safely and efficiently, during these difficult times.

“With a distribution of $12.3 million to Trust Tairāwhiti, they are also playing a crucial role in enabling the Trust to support and invest in regional wellbeing and recovery.

“When faced with a challenge like COVID-19, it reinforces more than ever that this model is one that delivers meaningful benefits to the people of te Tairāwhiti."

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