Southern Paua is owned and operated by Brian & Lisa O'Connor. Coming from Riverton in the deep South Brian was surrounded by paua and mussel shell and always had a love for the natural colour and beauty of the shells. In 1977 at the age of 14, Brian began working with paua, employed initially for a fisheries group making paua products with their stockpile of shell. Starting from scratch, Brian pioneered his own manufacturing methods and techniques developing custom machinery in the process.
Being a keen surfer Brian always wanted to be self-employed and be able to have a lifestyle that catered for his passions. Brian married Lisa in 1985 and formed Southern Paua in 1987. Starting from humble beginnings in an old cowshed at Colac Bay, Brian steadily built up a strong clientele. He was then able to purchase an old fire station in Riverton, which he converted into a factory shop. Seeing the potential of having a good retail shop and satisfied customers, Brian & Lisa wanted to further the business potential but as at the time only around 2% of tourists ventured into Riverton, and because of the cold climate they began to look for a new location.
On a sales trip, Brian came through Kaikoura and fell in love with the region. With the great tourist destination Kaikoura offered, Brian decided that this was the place Southern Paua would call home. In 1998 Brian & Lisa moved to Kaikoura with their 3 boys Levi, Sam & Luke. They purchased the old Kaikoura Main Power building and converted it into a large factory shop. Southern Paua has continued to expand since moving to Kaikoura as did Brian & Lisa's family when their fourth son Broc was born in the year 2000.
Brian is constantly developing his techniques of manufacturing and design and can produce consistent high quality at a competitive rate. The factory produces a wide range of products from whole polished shells to necklaces, pendants, brooches, earrings, hair clips, beads, buttons and more. We are continually developing new products and designs.
As our name suggests we use South Island paua shell as the paua grow bigger and the shells thicker with more vibrant colour in the colder waters of the South Island coastline. We are not limited to processing paua shells and also work with shells from around the South Pacific such as Black Pearl shell, Mother of Pearl shell and Pink Mussel shell. Southern Paua currently employs 8-10 people.
Brian & Lisa