Here we celebrate the region’s entrepreneurs and innovators who are leaving their mark on the world, while living the famous Taranaki lifestyle.
Each episode features a prominent local entrepreneur, making waves both nationally and internationally with their trailblazing spirit and can-do attitude. They'll share their successes, ah-ha moments and celebrated wins, as well as their struggles and behind the scenes failures. Our guests also reflect on how being from Taranaki influences their work and the lives they lead.
Hosted by long time business advocate and honorary Taranaki local David Downs, this series illustrates the thriving business environment within Taranaki by telling the stories of everyday people who've been able to achieve remarkable things.
Taranaki is a region where the unique natural and entrepreneurship ecosystems collide to create a place where people can flourish and achieve their full potential. Nau mai haere mai, we welcome you to hear our enterprising stories like no other.
Listen below, or available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Castbox or wherever you get your podcasts.
PowerUp S2 E6 Cathy Clennett
Hydrogen-fuelled trucks have started hitting the roads in NZ, and the impact on our emissions is massive. Taranaki company Hiringa is at the forefront of global efforts to slash emissions in transport, and the progress they’re making is incredible!
This episode of the PowerUp Podcast is about how they’re doing it - pioneering green hydrogen fuel, developing fuelling stations and delivering hydrogen-powered vehicles is a huge three-pronged mission, but they’re making it happen.
Taranaki has been an energy stronghold for years, and Hiringa is leading a transition that will cement the region as a global leader for the sector in the years to come.
PowerUp S2 E5 Joop Verbeek & Carmen Castro-Verbeek
IncaFe is all about good coffee done right. It takes effort though - sourcing beans directly from remote plantations in South America and Indonesia, paying above-market rates for quality and developing their own compostable packaging. But to founders Carmen and Joop, it’s worth it.
This is a great yarn about how a can-do attitude can help a local business to compete in a global market. IncaFe has become a leading supplier of quality coffee to cafes all around New Zealand, and Carmen and Joop’s dedication to doing it the right way makes their story all the more inspiring.
PowerUp S2 E4 Sonia Kiser and John Burling
When you’re fixing chainsaws at 7 years old and making motorbikes at 10, you’ve clearly got a knack for using your hands. This was John Burling growing up, and it’s no surprise that innovations from his back shed have gone all over the world.
John is the man behind Carac Group, a family owned and run engineering company in Eltham. In this episode of the PowerUp podcast by Venture Taranaki, John and his daughter, CEO Sonia Kiser, talk about how this small firm grew from John’s shed to seven factories.
John’s appetite for risk and ability to spot an opportunity (like getting involved in the America’s Cup) is as impressive as it is funny. This is a great yarn about a risk-taking, old-school tinkerer going global with innovations that are literally life-saving.
PowerUp S2 E3 Erin Benton
Even for a baker, getting up at midnight is extreme. But when you’ve got two tamariki and a dairy farm, baking Artisan Donuts have to fit in around them. This is just one of the many aspects that make Erin Benton’s story so awesome.
The founder of Knead, Erin’s doughnuts are unreal. There’s no other way to put it. She used to go to farmers markets and sell out in just over half an hour. She has lines out the door pretty much every day.
In this episode of the PowerUp podcast, Erin talks about the sacrifice it’s taken to become New Plymouth’s worst best kept secret. How she learned to bake, how she juggles her time, how she focuses on kaupapa important to her and keeping the balance so her cup can be full for her whānau and business.
PowerUp S2 E2 Steve Scott
Imagine trying to design and build the famous Len Lye Centre’s stainless steel facade. It doesn’t bear thinking about…unless you’re Steve Scott. Steve and his team at Rivet are masters with sheet metal, illustrated most notably at New Plymouth’s iconic Len Lye Museum.
Steve’s actually an electrician, but don’t let that fool you. He’s taken Rivet to a place where they’re regarded as the team for the hard jobs that other people can’t do. He’s also a passionate supporter of training young people, and a bit of a larrikin to boot.
This is a great example of how to become an expert in your field. Steve brings to life stories of his iconic projects, including gin stills and art sculptures. He brings a grounded approach, throws in a good dash of humour and ends with a great yarn about how to make a local business really stand out.
PowerUp S2 E1 Glen Stephens
Some people are just made different. Plenty of others would be happy with being director of a successful building company while raising two kids…but not Glen Stephens. He saw an opportunity to make an environmentally friendly sunscreen that protects against New Zealand’s harsh sun, and his side hustle is rapidly growing.
Glen is the founder of Sol + Sea, which started after seeing the devastating effects of coral bleaching in the Pacific. After a few years of investment, putting in the hard yards and refining his business strategy, Glen has developed a range of products and got them into stores all over NZ (and soon internationally).
This is a great yarn about how he did it, what makes him tick, and how something like this is possible from his base in Taranaki.
PowerUp S1 E8 James Annabell
From being a professional rugby player to running a successful international honey company, James Annabell’s story is a highly unlikely one. Not to mention the fact the Egmont Honey CEO and founder is allergic to bee stings.
However, there can be no denying the success of this family-run company. It started with James giving his dad a beehive for Christmas one year, and it’s grown to having more than 4,000 hives and exporting more than 1,000 tonnes of honey each year to more than 20 countries around the world.
James talks candidly about the challenges of making honey in some of the most remote parts of New Zealand, and how Egmont Honey is influenced by the local Taranaki region. The world of honey is immensely fascinating, and James’ ability to bring it to life makes this a must-listen episode of The PowerUp Podcast.
PowerUp S1 E7 John Matthews
In this episode of the PowerUp Podcast, prominent businessman John Matthews lifts the lid on his successes, challenges, and belief in taking risks - like shipping the largest oil tank to ever go on water from Taranaki to Fiji...without insurance.
John is a hugely influential figure in Taranaki’s cultural and art scene, as well as its business and infrastructure. A successful engineer and businessman, John’s expertise in roading and bitumen have seen him made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
A close friend of the late Len Lye, John is an adamant believer in the beauty of art. He was at the forefront of installing New Plymouth’s iconic wind wand - what was a highly divisive project at the time, as well as the city’s unique Len Lye gallery.
PowerUp S1 E6 Dave and Jo James
The story of how Juno came to be one of New Zealand’s leading spirits companies is hard to believe. After successful corporate careers, Dave and Jo James returned to Taranaki with a dream to distill premium gin. They invested a whole lot of time and money to source everything they needed, before trying to figure out the small matter of how gin was made.
Dave and Jo’s journey to winning a New Zealand gold medal in just two years is a tribute to dedication and creativity. With a considerable amount of help from Taranaki business advocates, engineers, growers, and marketers, Juno Gin is now forging a path ahead for all New Zealand spirits. Dave and Jo’s ambitious dream is for kiwi spirits to be thought of internationally in the same way New Zealand wine is.
This is an awesome story about enthusiasm and a can-do attitude, showing just what’s possible when you strive for the very best.