Obituary: Raffaele Muollo, Island Bay entrepreneur rooted in the fishing industry

Raffaele Muollo: entrepreneur in the fishing sector; b August 31, 1940; d December 7, 2021

Raffaele Muollo was an amazing man who dedicated his life to running very successful businesses and watching his family closely follow in his footsteps.

This larger than life character was the epitome of the ‘hard work never killed anyone’ saying, and his motivation, entrepreneurial spirit and ambition were visible in everything he did.

Raffaele Mario Muollo was born in Island Bay to migrant Italian parents Antonino and Ida, from the small fishing village of Puolo near Sorrento, south of Naples. He learned from an early age that making sacrifices usually yielded positive results.

Raffaele Muollo, left, his father Antonino and Prime Minister Robert Muldoon at the opening of Raffaele's new seafood processing plant in Wellington in 1978.

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Raffaele Muollo, left, his father Antonino and Prime Minister Robert Muldoon at the opening of Raffaele’s new seafood processing plant in Wellington in 1978.

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The family was rooted in the fishing industry. His father, who arrived in New Zealand in 1925, was the first of four brothers to emigrate. Two became fishermen and two grew tomatoes for commercial purposes in Nelson. Two of Raffaele’s brothers, Carlo and Tony, also owned and operated fishing boats in Island Bay, opposite the family home.

While he loved to go on the water, Muollo focused on the wholesale, retail and distribution of the game of seafood. It all started when he was only 10 years old, selling seafood. Door-to-door grooving throats around Island Bay. His parents bought him a bicycle, but it was to sell fish, not for fun and play.

Raffaele Muollo as a young man

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Raffaele Muollo as a young man

Schooling tended to take a back seat as he pursued his interests, working after school and on Friday nights at the Lambton Quay fishmonger run by the Barnao family. When he left school, he worked full time for Croatian migrants at Jurie Fisheries.

At the age of 19 he bought the Dominion Fisheries store in Courtenay Place, and it was a huge success at a time when seafood retailers were thriving long before one-stop supermarkets took over. mostly.

He sold the business and, at the age of 26, established Southern Cross Fisheries at a large site in Hansen St, Newtown, which today houses the Southern Cross Hospital. He also bought New Zealand Fisheries from Lorne St.

His drive and determination to succeed has seen the businesses grow tremendously and he has ensured a constant supply of fresh fish by purchasing a number of fishing vessels including the Sea Harvester, Southern Cross, Sea Reaper and Lady Kay. .

Raffaele Muollo with his daughter Paula and his wife Joséphine after the sale of the Raffaele hotel for its conversion into apartments.

Andrew Gorrie / Stuff

Raffaele Muollo with his daughter Paula and his wife Joséphine after the sale of the Raffaele hotel for its conversion into apartments.

Muollo worked long hours. Fishing boats arrived at all hours of the night, and he was always there to unload and transport the catch to his factory. While he worked all night, his wife Josephine brought him new clothes so that he could continue working.

He saw the opportunities to export crayfish and wet fish to Asia and the United States, and recognized that he needed to have a better export-standard facility from which to operate. In 1978, the old Southern Cross building was replaced by a new factory specially designed to process fish for export, and it was officially opened by Prime Minister Robert Muldoon. Muollo participated in the design of his office, which domination described as a ‘Hollywood sequel’.

In 1983 he sold the Southern Cross business to the Dunedin-based fishing company Skeggs, but maintained his interest and investment in the fishing industry and later in commercial real estate.

However, a new interest was born. For several years he had admired the location and outlook of the former Park Royal Hotel in Oriental Bay, and told his family that one day he wanted to own it. The hotel was on the site of the Oriental Bay tearoom and kiosk, then a former hotel and hostel.

The Park Royal fell victim to the 1987 stock market crash and closed for a while. In 1991, Raffaele made his dream come true by buying it.

Raffaele Muollo's brothers Tony, left, and Carl, or Carlo, as a child.  The couple later owned and operated fishing boats in Island Bay.  Tony passed away in November 2020.

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Raffaele Muollo’s brothers Tony, left, and Carl, or Carlo, as a child. The couple later owned and operated fishing boats in Island Bay. Tony passed away in November 2020.

It was to bear his name, Hotel Raffaele, and in many ways the boutique hotel’s design, renovation and menu reflected both his temperament and his spiritual homeland, Italy. He and Josephine oversaw the management of the hotel, and their grown children got involved in the business in one way or another. They ran the hotel for 13 years, before finally selling the building in 2004 to convert it into apartments.

Muollo’s work ethic, attitude and determination to succeed was evident to all of those many who saw him as a friend and confidant. Behind the cheeky smile and warm handshake was a passion for new ideas, a sense of creativity and style, and the selection of investment winners. He would say to his children, “Work for yourself in life – be the captain of your own ship and no one will be able to tell you what to do.

The Muollo family lived just 100 meters from where Joséphine Basile grew up with her family, another Italian family heavily involved in the fishing industry. When the time came for the courage to ask her on a date and she agreed, Muollo celebrated with the purchase of a Chevrolet Bel Air to take her to town in style.

His generosity was well known and he enjoyed a large circle of friends. He loved large family gatherings, marked by his infectious laughter and complemented by several of his favorite Italian dishes.

During the past two years he suffered from poor health and during this period lost his sister and younger brother. He is survived by Joséphine, five children and seven grandchildren.

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