Maori ki­wifruit project pos­si­bly ‘big­gest ever in­vest­ment’

The Orchardist - - News - By Alison McCul­loch

There, with a com­mand­ing view out across Te Moana-a-Toi (the Bay of Plenty), is Otuwhare Marae, the site cho­sen to launch a bold new pro­gramme that will see $30 mil­lion spent de­vel­op­ing ki­wifruit or­chards on more than

90ha of M-aori land.

Omaio is home to some of the land in the pro­gramme, in­clud­ing one block, Omaio 39, that has al­ready been de­vel­oped and planted as part of a pi­lot. But that wasn’t the only rea­son the gath­er­ing of ki­wifruit in­dus­try lead­ers and stake­hold­ers took

place here, as Jamie Tu­uta, the M-aori Trustee and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Te Tumu Paeroa ex­plained. “We felt it was really im­por­tant to get a lot of the peo­ple that are in­volved in the in­dus­try to travel to Omaio, to not only be here with us to wit­ness this event but also get to know and un­der­stand the lo­cal com­mu­nity, and also the lo­cal cir­cum­stances here in Omaio and fur­ther up the coast.”

Un­der what is called the Ki­wifruit Mo­bil­i­sa­tion Pro­gramme, Jamie Tu­uta ex­plained that Te Tumu Paeroa “will in­vest, we will build, we will de­velop, we will op­er­ate these ten or­chards, and then we will trans­fer the or­chards to the M-aori land own­ers

within a 12 to 17 year pe­riod”.

The pro­gramme is be­ing run in part­ner­ship with Quay­side Hold­ings, the in­vest­ment arm of the Bay of Plenty Re­gional Coun­cil, and seeks to over­come some of the ob­sta­cles M-aori landown­ers face in try­ing to de­velop their land, which of­ten has mul­ti­ple own­ers.The Omaio 39 block, for ex­am­ple, has 83 own­ers; some other blocks have as many as 2,000.

“One of the chal­lenges is al­ways cap­i­tal,” Jamie said. “Sec­ond is con­fi­dence, third which is linked to con­fi­dence and prob­a­bly cap­i­tal, is trust. But fourthly there is this fear that a lot of our M-aori landown­ers have to put their land for­ward as se­cu­rity.” Un­der the Ki­wifruit Mo­bil­i­sa­tion Pro­gramme, said to be the sin­gle largest ki­wifruit in­vest­ment ever made on M-aori land, Te Tumu Paeroa and its part­ners will pro­vide the cap­i­tal and shoul­der the risk. The M-aori landown­ers will lease their land to Te Tumu Paeroa while it is be­ing de­vel­oped, and for a pe­riod of time after it has come into pro­duc­tion so that the in­vestors can re­cover costs and make a re­turn.

The project’s goal is to up­skill lo­cal peo­ple along the way and trans­fer fully pro­duc­tive or­chards back to the M-aori own­ers at com­ple­tion. Ac­cord­ing to Te Tumu Paeroa’s “Ki­wifruit FAQ” doc­u­ment, the project is classed as high risk for its in­vestors, who are only ex­pect­ing a 12% re­turn. By 2030, based on to­day’s re­turns, Te Tumu Paeroa says the or­chards are ex­pected to gen­er­ate more than $80,000 a hectare per year, or a to­tal of $7.1 mil­lion. As well as lo­cal M-aori landown­ers and the peo­ple of the

marae, at­ten­dees at the open­ing cer­e­mony in­cluded MP

for Wa­iariki and Min­is­ter for M-aori After some ko­rero and kai, those De­vel­op­ment Te Ururoa Flavell; the at­tend­ing the open­ing were taken by chief ex­ec­u­tive of Ze­spri, Lain Jager; mini­van to see Omaio 39, off State the chair and chief ex­ec­u­tive of New High­way 35 not far from Otuwhare Zealand Ki­wifruit Grow­ers, Doug Brown Marae, which is about 55 kilo­me­tres

- and Nikki John­son; and Opotiki Dis­trict north­east of Opotiki. The block is just Mayor, John Forbes. over 8.5ha in size, of which 4.6ha has

been con­toured, de­vel­oped and planted. ‘TU­MUL­TUOUS AT TIMES’ Lo­cal post-har­vest com­pany Opotiki Kir­i­tapu Al­lan, a busi­ness con­sul­tant with Pack­ing and Cool­stor­age (OPAC) Te Tumu Paeroa, has been work­ing with man­aged the work, and the first har­vest landown­ers since 2012 to get Omaio from the block will be in 2019, ul­ti­mately 39 up and run­ning, and she said things pro­duc­ing both Hay­ward green and had been tu­mul­tuous at times. “They’d SunGold (G3). (Jamie Tu­uta said that Te had an av­o­cado or­chard on site that had Tumu Paeroa had se­cured 20ha of G3 had is­sues, and it was not go­ing to be li­cence in the lat­est al­lo­ca­tion round.) sus­tain­able mov­ing for­ward. And it had

Other sites for de­vel­op­ment in the a lot of emo­tional con­nec­tion for the

pro­gramme in­clude Matakana Is­land in own­ers – peo­ple who had sown those

Tau­ranga Har­bour, more sites along the trees had passed on.”

coast east of Opotiki and pos­si­bly in the She said the own­ers “wanted some­thing Gis­borne area. that still brought in cap­i­tal but a project that brings the fam­i­lies to­gether to fo­cus ‘TREMEN­DOUS GROWTH’ on the kau­papa, and that kau­papa has Ze­spri’s Lain Jager con­grat­u­lated those been this or­chard for the last cou­ple of in­volved in the project which he said years”. Now, she said, when meet­ings are would mean “tremen­dous growth in called up at Omaio 39, “own­ers travel M-aori busi­ness in M-aori ki­wifruit”. The from far and wide to come”.

land at Omaio is great for grow­ing ki­wifruit, he said. “It’s got really, really good sun, it’s early and it’s high sugar, when you plant Gold here it’s go­ing to be a fab­u­lous crop, and it’s go­ing to be a high value crop and so you’ve got all the in­gre­di­ents

to create tremen­dous value.”

“We’re about $2.3 bil­lion of rev­enue to­day. We can see a fu­ture by 2025 of $4.5 bil­lion. It means our busi­ness is go­ing to dou­ble in size, and that’s go­ing to take in­vest­ment from grow­ers, but it rep­re­sents tremen­dous op­por­tu­ni­ties

for all of us,” Lain Jager said.

One of the own­ers of Omaio 39, Phillip Al­bert, said that from their point of view, it

was really a mat­ter of the fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance they re­ceived to get into ki­wifruit “be­cause as you know, most M-aori land own­ers don’t have the fi­nance to get into

things like ki­wifruit be­cause the price is too high”.

Phillip Al­bert said it had been a mar­vel­lous jour­ney for the own­ers. “Te Tumu Paeroa has taught us a hell of a lot about how to get these things to­gether, and I would rec­om­mend it to other own­ers in the dis­trict.”

Drape Net ® has been used to pro­tect Ap­ples & Pears in Aus­tralia for the last 12 years suc­cess­fully Drape Net ® is eco­nom­i­cal and costs a frac­tion of the price of struc­tured net­ting. Drape Net ® is me­chan­i­cally ap­plied over each in­di­vid­ual row of crop and ca­ble tied to lower fruit­ing tree arms. Drape Net ® pro­tects tree crops from dam­age from hail, wind, birds and sun­burn. Drape Net ® is a phys­i­cal cost ef­fec­tive “Hail In­sur­ance” bar­rier. Drape Net ® has been de­vel­oped and sold over the last 12 years in Aus­tralia in all ma­jor fruit grow­ing ar­eas. Tri­alled un­der New Zealand con­di­tions over past two sea­sons:

Top: Min­is­ter for M-aori De­vel­op­ment, Te Ururoa Flavell, speak­ing at Otuwhare Marae. Credit: Josh Neilson for Te Tumu Paeroa

From left: Jamie Tu­uta, the M-aori Trustee and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Te Tumu Paeroa. Kir­i­tapu Al­lan is a con­sul­tant with Te Tumu Paeroa. Min­is­ter for M-aori De­vel­op­ment, Te Ururoa Flavell, speak­ing at Otuwhare Marae.

Otuwhare Marae from the sea. Credit: Josh Neilson for Te Tumu Paeroa

Vis­i­tors are called on to Otuwhare Marae. Credit: Josh Neilson for Te Tumu Paeroa

Just over 4.5ha of the Omaio 39 block has been de­vel­oped as part of the Ki­wifruit Mo­bil­i­sa­tion Pro­gramme. Credit: Josh Neilson for Te Tumu Paeroa

From top: Chief ex­ec­u­tive of Ze­spri, Lain Jager, speak­ing at the Omaio 39 block. The ki­wifruit block Omaio 39 in Omaio Bay. Credit: Josh Neilson for Te Tumu Paeroa

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