The company, established in 2011, is run by members of the Tuake family, including Tangi Tuake and his son Albert, who are of Cook Islands descent. The business has bases in Australia and the Cook Islands and other countries.
In 2014, the company began selling the K3T wall system, manufactured in China. They advertised the product as being innovative, strong, and cheaper than anything else on the market.
Global Fibre8 sold the rights to distribute the product to retailers around the world, including a number of people in the Cook Islands. CINews believes multiple investors from the Cook Islands have spent up to $50 000 for the rights to become supply agents.
However, a number of independent reports, including one by Veron Building Consultants, alleges the K3T wall system is not fit for purpose and does not meet the New Zealand building code on a number of levels. The report says the product has been leaching toxins and these chlorides eventually “poison” concrete and corrode steel, causing extensive damage.
In August last year, Global Fibre8 held a week-long K3T Wall Systems workshop on Rarotonga. The course was attended by around 40 people including staff from Infrastructure Cook Islands (ICI).
During the workshop, attendees were taught how to install the product, resulting in a house being built in Akaoa. According to the building controller for ICI, Louis Teiti, a second house is also being built in Akaoa using the K3T materials. Another has received approval and CINews believes Global Fibre8 also has clients on Aitutaki.
Teiti says ICI has inspected the houses to ensure the construction specifications are followed.
“This product is still new in the Cook Islands and only three houses have been given the approval to build. If the K3T wall system has failed, then there are two concerns we have to look at: is it a failure of the product or the workmanship?”
Tangi Tuake used community connections here in the Cook Islands to market his product both domestically and internationally. A number of Cook Islanders purchased the wall systems to use and others purchased the rights to distribute the product. ICI secretary Ngametua Pokino says the product gained popularity here because people were “lured by the low price and (fast) construction turnaround”.
Many of those who paid for the materials allegedly never received them. Local resident Nara Pera was one. Pera says she chose to use the K3T wall system because it was within her budget. She was planning to build a home on Rarotonga. Pera bought the panels in Melbourne, from Teariki Tuake the brother of Global Fibre 8’s chief executive officer, Tangi Tuake.
Pera says she was quoted $23,200 and paid the money in May 2017. However, almost a year on, she is still waiting for the materials to arrive. Pera says she has sent numerous emails to Global Fibre8 and tried phoning them many times, but never received a response.
When Global Fibre8 finally did make contact with Pera, they allegedly told her they were looking for another company in China to make the panels. Pera says she was unhappy with this response and asked for her money back. However, she says Tangi Tuake told her they would need to get the money from “another investor”.
“He just kept going, giving me excuses. I had to go public. I had to stop these guys from ripping more people off,” Pera says.
The Tuakes are not new to controversy, with Tere Tuake featuring on New Zealand television in 2005 over a panelbeating scam.
Kupe Building Supplies is also involved in the distribution of the K3T system. The company is listed as being directed by Tere Bishop, Roger Guo, Bruce Chen, and Arahu Marsters.
In the 1990s, Marsters was involved with a company called Ace Enterprises. It is believed the company chartered flights and took money from Cook Islanders, without passing the funds on to the transport provider. Large numbers of people were subsequently left stranded in New Zealand.
Pokino says ICI’s building control unit will review Global Fibre 8’s business permit. The company is already subject to legal action in New Zealand and Australia.
Global Fibre8 was approached by CINews for comment, but declined.