08 September 2014

Sad End for NZ Aerial Mapping

NZ Aerial Mapping's 22 staff will lose their jobs with 15 already made redundant. Bank-appointed receiver John Fisk, of Price Waterhouse Coopers, said the decision was made to close the company doors. "We haven't been able to sell the business as a going concern at a price that was acceptable to us, so we are now looking at a process to sell the assets on a break-up basis." It has more than one million images looking for a new home after the company became insolvent, the primary cause a Saudi Arabian contract with more than $1.5 million owing. Staff were told on Thursday the company would cease to trade once existing imagery, for New Zealand local government clients, was processed. Seven staff are retained until then and some may assist with the sale of the company's assets. In his first receiver's report, Mr Fisk said the Bank of New Zealand held a $4.8 million security over the company and unsecured creditors more than $1.8 million. The trade creditor balance was more than $2.5 million. The company has had a presence at the Bridge Pa Aerodrome since the 1930s but this year decided to move some parts of its business to Auckland and sell its Hastings Aerodrome holdings at Bridge Pa. Bayleys Realty said the aerial photography and mapping company's buildings, hangars and land remained on the market. In May managing director Mark Roberts said the shift to Auckland was to capitalise on its 2012 acquisition of Great Barrier Airlines. The company split its business between New Zealand and the Middle East, where it has two specialist planes based. It was founded by Henry Piet van Asch. One of his first commercial contracts was surveying the effects of the 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake on the region's water table. It is one of the longest established aerial survey companies in the world with experience on every continent except America. Since Mr van Asch's death in 1996 the it went through several changes, including overseas ownership and a move to Auckland before a return to Hastings. The company's head office is in Hastings' Avenue Rd East. In 2005 Mr Roberts bought the company in partnership with Mohammad Hanno, a Saudi Arabian airline pilot with several aviation business interests in New Zealand and overseas. Its first Middle East contract was surveying the Kuwait-Saudi Arabia border after winning an international tender. The project led to more work in the region, including the holy city of Mecca which required a Muslim crew. The company completed the biggest aerial mapping contract in New Zealand - the mapping of the entire Bay of Plenty for a company owned by nine councils. Mr Fisk said he expected government interest in company's archive, including and maps acquired from its purchase of former Crown entity Terralink. "The company has been around since 1936, it's a real shame." Mr van Asch was inducted into the Hawke's Bay Business Hall of Fame in 2011.

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