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New World Hokitika’s new owner operator trades the big smoke for rural paradise

27 October 2023

New World; Hokitika; produce; Apples

Ben Morrison, New World Hokitika's new owner operator

Hokitika welcomed a fresh face this month, as Ben Morrison, the new operator of New World Hokitika, steps into the role of store owner for the very first time. 

Leaving the hustle and bustle of city life behind, Ben says he’s excited to trade the busy Christchurch cityscape for the tranquility and natural beauty of the West Coast. 

“I’m Christchurch born and bred, but I’ve been craving a change of scenery for a while now,” Ben says.

“While it’s a pretty big deal moving my family to a new home hundreds of kilometres away, Foodstuffs South Island, the co-op that’s behind New World on the mainland, has been endlessly supportive, and provided all the help we’ve needed to make the transition.

“Location-wise Hokitika is amazing. It’s not too big and not too small and the people are amazingly welcoming. There’s so much to see and do in every direction and as an outdoors-y guy it’s very exciting!

I’m very much looking forward to exploring this new side of the country.

Ben brings a wealth of experience to his new role, having started his career with Foodstuffs South Island as a part-timer at Trent’s Wholesale after school, before moving to a role at Vodafone during his university studies, and eventually, back to the South Island co-operative in their Christchurch support centre as a buyer.

“I enjoyed the Support Centre environment, but my heart was always on the shop floor,” Ben says.

“I just love the people and the variety! Every day keeps you on your toes. It’s exciting and always changing and evolving.

“When I was working in the support centre, I was constantly looking forward to the next time I could get into a store, be around people and see firsthand the difference I was making in supermarkets and the communities they served.”

Ben has spent the last seven years working as a Store Manager at Pak’nSave Wainoni under the wing of the store’s owner operator Marcel Grey, before becoming a member of the co-operative.

“I owe a lot of what I know to Marcel and my time spent working with the team and community at Wainoni. From day one he was committed to sharing with me his knowledge and expertise on being a successful owner operator,” Ben says. 

It’s definitely been an eventful few years! Wainoni was one of the stores that was rebuilt after the earthquake so working through that was quite an experience. I’ve also helped oversee the building of a new warehouse, extended freezer storage and led the switch to electronic shelf labels, so I’ve helped usher in quite a few changes.”

Ben says he’s looking forward to the responsibility of owning his own supermarket and getting to serve as the one of the central hubs of the Hokitika community.

“The previous owners have done an amazing job at looking after the community, supporting local events and initiatives,” he explains. 

I’m planning to pick up right where they left off. It’s really cool how each New World is uniquely suited to the local community and has the flexibility to fulfil their different needs.

One of the first steps in my store ownership journey will be to understand what the community has, what it needs and what New World Hokitika can do to support the community to thrive.”

Outside of work, Ben is an avid outdoors enthusiast, and can often be found running, biking, and paddling. He recently accomplished a two-day coast-to-coast marathon and has plans to ride Motatapu in March. 

"After months of preparation, my partner and our two sons have just arrived from Christchurch.” Ben says.

“So as of today, we live in Hokitika! We are very excited to get stuck in.”