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The TUKU Maˉori Wine­mak­ers Col­lec­tive is redefin­ing the way to ap­proach ex­port busi­ness, and they’re ex­cited by the re­ac­tion to their col­lab­o­ra­tive ini­tia­tive.

I t all started four years ago when a hand­ful of Maˉori-owned winer­ies sat down with Poutama Trust and New Zealand Trade and En­ter­prise (NZTE).

From that early con­ver­sa­tion, a col­lab­o­ra­tive ap­proach was taken to sev­eral in­ter­na­tional trade shows com­ing up in Tai­wan and Hong Kong, also in­volv­ing selected honey and meat pro­duc­ers – all were Maˉori owned busi­nesses.

The idea of es­tab­lish­ing a wine col­lec­tive amongst Maˉori emerged. There was noth­ing in that space at the time.

The of­fi­cial launch of the TUKU Maˉori Wine­mak­ers Col­lec­tive took place in mid-July at Air New Zealand’s cus­tomer in­no­va­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion cen­tre (CICC) in Auck­land’s CBD.

The five found­ing mem­bers that make up the TUKU Col­lec­tive are te Paˉ Fam­ily Vine­yards, Tiki Wines, Steve Bird Wines, Kuru Kuru Wines and Ostler Wines.

Haysley Mac­Don­ald, owner of te Paˉ, says the goal of the Col­lec­tive is to tar­get op­por­tu­ni­ties with its port­fo­lio of­fer­ing, which rep­re­sents most of New Zealand’s main wine grow­ing re­gions – Marl­bor­ough, Waipara, Hawke’s Bay, Waitaki and Cen­tral Otago.

There are also op­por­tu­ni­ties to col­lab­o­rate on in­dus­try events, he says, to pool and share re­sources and gen­er­ally share knowl­edge.

“We want to put Maˉori on the map in the wine sec­tor. Maˉori are al­ready strongly rep­re­sented across forestry, tourism, and seafood, so we’re keen to have more di­ver­sity for Maˉori busi­nesses.

“The very long-term goal is to leave a le­gacy for our kids, and their kids, and their kids af­ter them. It’s what drives us all to cre­ate and nur­ture sus­tain­able busi­nesses, and that’s a point of dif­fer­ence to other com­pa­nies, who might be only think­ing ten, 20 years ahead.

“As Maˉori, we’re think­ing in­ter-gen­er­a­tional busi­ness growth and longevity.”

Mar­ket­ing the busi­ness col­lec­tively off­shore hasn’t been with­out its chal­lenges.

“We all talk about whaka­papa and his­tory, but out­side of New Zealand the chal­lenge is more about try­ing to get peo­ple to un­der­stand and ap­pre­ci­ate that there was life in New Zealand be­fore Cap­tain Cook ar­rived,” ex­plains Haysley.

“To get in­ter­na­tional cus­tomers to see that can be a chal­lenge, but it’s some­thing we con­tinue to work on as it’s so cen­tral to the Maˉori iden­tity.”

How­ever, do­mes­ti­cally there has been a lot of pos­i­tive feed­back, he says.

“We’re re­ally ex­cited to see some strong do­mes­tic in­ter­est in the Col­lec­tive’s of­fer­ing from some ma­jor tourism op­er­a­tors, air­lines and air­ports. The pos­i­tive at­ten­tion we’re gain­ing from key me­dia is hugely valu­able in pro­mot­ing our Col­lec­tive ideals and the busi­nesses and brands within the group,” says Haysley.

The re­sponse from their peers in the in­dus­try has been over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive too, he adds. “We’re hear­ing from our in­dus­try mates that this is a great ini­tia­tive, and that it is good to see Maˉori busi­ness own­ers get­ting to­gether and col­lab­o­rat­ing.”


For the TUKU Maˉori Wine­mak­ers Col­lec­tive, China is the first cab off the rank for in­ter­na­tional sales. Through their work with the Hui Maˉori Col­lec­tive (a clus­ter of Maˉori food and bev­er­age pro­duc­ers) they’re launch­ing on Alibaba’s pow­er­ful Tmall e-com­merce plat­form in Novem­ber.

Haysley says there is a world of po­ten­tial through that sin­gle plat­form alone.

“In terms of over­all sales, any­where there is an op­por­tu­nity to pitch our Col­lec­tive port­fo­lio will ben­e­fit the in­di­vid­ual busi­nesses within our TUKU whanau.”

While it’s still early days, the Col­lec­tive is buoyed by the ini­tial re­sponse over­seas.

“Mas­ter of wine, Bob Camp­bell, was re­cently quoted as say­ing: ‘TUKU of­fers a point of dif­fer­ence that I know will cap­ti­vate in­ter­na­tional au­di­ences enough to get a foot in the door. The strength of their wine qual­ity will do the rest’.”


Haysley says the long-term ex­port goals of the TUKU Maˉori Wine­mak­ers Col­lec­tive are re­ally no dif­fer­ent to those of each in­di­vid­ual mem­ber: “sus­tain­able, prof­itable part­ner­ships with over­seas mar­kets, where we en­joy a long term re­la­tion­ship with our dis­tri­bu­tion part­ners, who see the value in our col­lec­tive story and unique Maˉori her­itage”.

Look­ing back and with the ben­e­fit of hind­sight he doesn’t think they would have done any­thing dif­fer­ently. “We’re a small group, so we are find­ing our feet as we go in many ar­eas.

“Where other col­lab­o­ra­tives and col­lec­tives work to­gether solely from a busi­ness point of view, we’re a bit dif­fer­ent as it’s more of a fam­ily en­vi­ron­ment. We’ll stay at each other’s places when we’re trav­el­ling; we share kai to­gether and en­joy a laugh.

“We’re ex­cited that peo­ple see TUKU as a point of dif­fer­ence and see it as a dif­fer­ent way of do­ing busi­ness,” says Haysley. “It’s not all about dol­lars and cents; it can be about Te Ao Maˉori, which is a unique way of view­ing and be­ing in the world.”

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