“This has been set up so that it’s completely whanau (family) run,” says Grant Nutbeam, skipper and part-owner of the business.
“I want to look after locals. Even right down to the point that the bank account I’ve got is Cook Islands. I want it local.”
The New Zealand farmer and fisherman says he “fell in love with the place” after a fishing trip five years ago but noticed the mistreatment of locals by foreign owned fishing businesses.
“Foreign people don’t look after locals that well and I wanted to do something better.”
It’s a passion he shares with his business partner and local fisherman Irakau “Willie” William.
The duo, who call each other family, decided to go into business together a year ago after a fishing trip catching marlin in the Cook Islands changed Nutbeam’s life.
William says: “When I went to New Zealand and we had a chat about what we were going to do and he mentioned to me that he wanted to buy a business here and he wanted me to be a partner. So I said why not? I knew it would change my life.”
So they bought their boat and officially started business last week.
And work has already been in full swing.
As well as running charters, their vessel has been contracted by Port Authority as a temporary tug-boat for the cargo ships berthing into Avatiu. The duo say the island can be grateful for their help in delivering their fried chicken.
William says “We’re using the boat to help the Cook Islanders so without us you and I would not have chicken here, no food.”
But they hope their vessel won’t be used as a tug-boat for too long as they look to get stuck into business and eventually expanding their fleet.
Nutbeam says, “Sakula is the only boat here that can offer multi-day trips to the outer islands so we’re going to expand on the market bringing tourism here by doing multi-day trips and then we want to get two smaller boats here to cover the market for fishing.”
The duo hope it will create more employment opportunities in the Cook Islands, confirming it will be 100 per cent Cook Island crewed with the exception of Nutbeam.