The island celebrated two important milestones in the weekend – one to mark 5-years of a successful operation of a home-grown banking system and the opening of a new supermarket. Please see another article for the Kiwibank celebration.
Swanson Supermarket – A New Chapter
It began as a small village shop at Mutalau. Many years later a new multi-million dollar supermarket, which bears the name of the owner of that little shop, opened at Fonuakula. The new premises were jointly opened on a wet Saturday afternoon by Premier Sir Toke Talagi and Mr John Heise from NZ-based parent company WH Grove and Sons Ltd. Mr Heise and his wife Anne and son Chris and other staff members had travelled from Auckland for the occasion.
The driving force behind the project according to Armanda Pita, local manager of Swanson, is Mr Rob O’halloran who is normally based at WH Grove in Auckland. Rob has become well known on the island with his many visits over the duration of the project.
The original Swanson was the brainchild of former owner Birt Jessop who took over the running of the shop from his father Swan Jessop. Jessop had started his business at Mutalau before building a branch in Fakaleaina in Alofi South. When Birt Jessop was looking at expanding the business and branching out on his own, he left the old Fakaleaina shop to other members of his family and moved to vacant food processing factory at Fonuakula, now occupied by DAFF. He eventually build new premises at Hamula in central Alofi and named it Swanson, a shortened form of Swan Jessop & Son. WH Grove and Sons Ltd who had been supplying Swan Jessop and then subsequently Swanson over many years took over the business several years ago.
John Heise told invited guests at the opening that after acquiring the business it soon became evident that the old shop at Hamula was becoming too small. A growing tourist industry with a growing demand from self-catering accommodation required bigger premises.
“But the problem was finding someone with suitable land to lease. And this is where Premier Talagi and his government came to our rescue. We cannot thank the Niue Government enough for making available the land where the new supermarket now stands”. Mr Heise said the project had taken some time to complete but it is a project that Niue and Swanson should justifiably be proud.
In his short remarks the Premier reminded guests that while there was some opposition to the project when it was first mooted, he was not prepared to allow detractors to get in the way of progress. He said that he hoped to increase the number of visitors over time so that they can help the growth of the private sector. A third flight is on the cards but not until the island has more accommodation according to the Premier.
A wet and chilly afternoon did not damper the festive spirit at the opening with plenty to eat and drink. Congratulations to Amanda Pita and her staff; augurs well for the future.
More pictures below…