forbes-history (1)‘Packaging with an odd touch of sailing’

Forbes’s history books are certainly not filled with dull characters. While packaging and sailing may not seem to be logical compliments, in a sense they have run parallels throughout the history of Forbes Packaging as a mutual passion that the current and original owner of Forbes share.

Forbes Enterprises as it was called back then, was established in 1959 by Colin Forbes. Initially work was built around things like foil blocking the insides of shoes and plastic caps.  ‘Forbesy’ bought his first single colour printing machine in the mid sixties. It was not long after this that ‘Forbsey’ built his 38 footer yacht the ‘Seawitch’ which he competed in the famous ‘Sydney to Hobart’  of 1970. Shortly after this, the ‘Seawitch’ sank after an unfortunate collision with a rock in Phillips Bay. Colin then bought ‘Rainbird’ with the subsequent insurance money.

From around 1970, ‘Forbsey’ took to the seas, leaving Forbes Enterprises in the hands of Suzy Kitt. Suzy ran Forbes until around 1977. During these years Forbes Enterprises began to build strong relationships with cosmetic enterprises, the beginnings of a network that has seen Forbes grow a prestigious reputation for producing the best packaging on offer in the New Zealand market.

Colin Forbes returned from his offshore adventures in 1976 and resumed control over the company. In this year, the current owner of Forbes Packaging Ltd, enters the story. Martin Farrand was first commissioned by Colin to sail his yacht ‘Rainbird’ back from Florida. In this same year Martin was employed by Forbsey as a sales rep.

By this time Forbes Enterprises now had two single color Heidelberg print machines, 3x GTP and also a letterpress vertical meihle! All cartons were glued by hand. In 1978 Frank Hellawel joined Forbes as a van driver, Frank has remained employed in the company to this day.

In 1978 Forbsey headed offshore again, this time headed for Hawaii where he resided for some time running his own bar and restaurant. Forbes Enterprises was at this time under the administration of Ron Lucca, Adele Henderson and Martin Farrand. These were tough years, however Forbes survived.

The following year of 1979  Forbes Enterprises acquired their first Roland Favourit two colour print machine.

  • This time it was Martin who took to the seas in 1980, off to cruise the Pacific in his yacht ‘Illusion’.
  • Ron and Adele continued to run the company until Colin returned in 1984, sadly with a terminal illness.

Forbsey passed on his 60th birthday in 1987. In these years the company acquired a gluer which is still in operation to this day, another two colour Favorit (recently retired)  and a new foiling GTP (the last in the country- still with us). After Forbseys return Ron also left to set up Westside Printers.


Forbsey’s passing signaled the next chapter in this history of the company, where it was bought by Martin Farrand and his wife Christine, who remain the owners till this day. Ironically six months after the Farrand’s acquired Forbes Enterprises Ltd, the market crashed in October of 1987. This has not been the end of the company however, which has, under Martin’s leadership, since grown to boast an extensive wealth of knowledge, practical experience and innovation in cardboard packaging.

Forbes Packaging as it is now called, remains a kiwi, family owned business however it also represents a family in itself, most of the staff at Forbes have been employed for anywhere between 5-25 years (depending on their own age of course!). We are proud of the team here and Forbes and their longevity demonstrates the reliability, expertise and loyalty you can expect from us here at Forbes Packaging.