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History | Print |

The principles, Ian and Lorraine Simpson moved to Taveuni in 1981 to care for their folks. At this time there were no roll-on roll-off vessels in operation and all shipping was done on cargo vessels with week long transits to the capital. At this time Taro was an infant industry based in Viti Levu, supplying New Zealand during the Samoan Taro off-season. During this time we planted taro for the local market and travelled to the Labasa open market to sell our crop.

In due course the first room ferry started operating a twice weekly service from Suva to Taveuni. This single event was the catalyst that allowed Taveuni to go into overdrive as a reliable off-season supplier to not only New Zealand, but with regular shipping and airline services the industry was able to supply Australia, Hawaii and mainland USA. 

In 1993 - 1994 The taro leaf blight struck Samoa and wiped out the Taro industry overnight. This disaster for Samoa propelled Taveuni into an all year round supplier of the Tausala-Ni-Samoa variety that is so well established with Samoan consumers.

In 1993 Ian took a trip to Hawaii to find markets for his fishing company. On this trip he met Kiseon Woo who operates a supermarket supplying food to the many Polynesian and Micronesian residents of Honolulu. Trading as Yamashin Market he provides both fresh and canned favourites to these people. 

This short meeting and promise of an order on Ian’s return, has grown into a 13 year relationship that has seen some testing times. 

Initial shipments were all air-freighted via Nadi airport. This involved processing in Taveuni, loading into cooler trucks and boarding RORO vessels to a point in Viti Levu. From this point there was still the adventure of a road trip to the far side of the main island to connect with airlines. 

In due course, Yamashin Market got into wholesaling and air-freighting was no longer feasible so shipments were directed via sea freight. Initially these were monthly, direct Suva to Honolulu. With the worldwide shortage of shipping this service was dropped and now all shipments must travel via Auckland. Transhipments often take a month, but fortunately the fact that taro is harvested and processed on the same day and loaded into a cooler allows for a high quality product that can sustain long periods in a reefer container without losing quality. 

Over 13 years of learning, often through trial and error, we have acquired the skills to produce an excellent taro for our customers. Systems have been developed to produce an average sized taro for consumer preference while providing a good return for the farming effort.

 
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