Dr Hirotomi Ochi bought Teschmakers, a former Catholic girls’ boarding school, and 500 hectares of land in 2001 to set up an international centre in North Otago for health sciences and the growing and processing of organic foods.
But he died nearly three years ago. Now his company, Nikken Seil is selling the 22ha it bought north of Oamaru to establish a business park and the sale of the school and surrounding land is expected to follow.
Nikken’s principal shareholder Dr Hirotomo Ochi, who died in October 2005, bought Teschemakers for about $500,000 in 2000, and from that sprang the idea of the business park and the purchase of about 500ha of farmland to produce organic foods for processing.
Dr Ochi was also the principal shareholder in food company Nikken Foods, but since his death the projects – which could have created hundreds of jobs – have languished.
Former Waitaki mayor Alan McLay yesterday said the business park land was still “a huge opportunity long term”.
“Nothing has changed, except the possibility of having Japanese enterprises and industries. It’s given us the opportunity for a much-needed industrial area for the town,” he said.
The international college was a big dream and the company spent hundreds of thousands of dollars restoring the old school buildings, including an historic homestead which was destroyed by fire part way through the restoration, and rebuilt.
The school ought to be worth a lot more than its $500,000 purchase price now the buildings have been restored – if someone with a new dream can be found to buy it.
Waitaki Mayor Alex Familton agrees with his predecssor that there is still potential for a business park.