Find­ing the key to fu­ture pros­per­ity

The Orchardist - - >>Kiwifruit Labour Report - By Kris­tine Walsh

M-aori land of­fers huge op­por­tu­ni­ties for the ki­wifruit in­dus­try but peo­ple and the com­mu­ni­ties they live in have to be con­sid­ered if that land is to be un­locked.

That's the con­clu­sion from a new re­port, It's More Than Just Ki­wifruit: The Im­pact On Re­gional New Zealand As We Try To Meet The Grow­ing De­mand For Ki­wifruit De­vel­op­ment, by Jes­sica Smith. Of Te Ati­haunui a Pa­parangi/Ngati Ta­makopiri, Ngai Tahu/Ngati Kahun­gunu de­cent she’s a busi­ness man­ager of strate­gic trusts, in­cor­po­ra­tions and joint ven­tures at Te Tumu Paeroa, which sup­ports own­ers in the de­vel­op­ment of M-aori land. She wrote the re­port as part of be­ing awarded a schol­ar­ship to com­plete the Kel­logg Ru­ral Lead­er­ship Pro­gramme.

Not that the sub­ject mat­ter was much of a leap . . . she said her en­tire pro­fes­sional ca­reer is devoted to sup­port­ing M-aori com­mu­ni­ties and own­ers in mak­ing the best of

their whenua (land).

But it is chal­leng­ing.

What the re­port con­cludes is that while the ki­wifruit in­dus­try is hun­gry for growth, M-aori landown­ers tend not to be in­ter­ested in busi­ness at any cost. In­stead, she said, fac­tors like the en­vi­ron­men­tal ef­fects of or­chard op­er­a­tions, em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for lo­cals, and com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment play a big part in their de­ci­sion­mak­ing. “In my job I work with M-aori grow­ers and am cur­rently re­spon­si­ble for strate­gic in­vest­ment in ki­wifruit,” she said.

“How­ever, there didn't seem to be any ground-up re­search around the im­pacts of such ac­tiv­ity, and how the peo­ple in­volved get their voices heard. So what I wanted to do was work with M-aori landown­ers and their com­mu­ni­ties

and find out what was im­por­tant to them.”

For her re­port, she fo­cused on Te Whanau Apanui in the eastern Bay Of Plenty, a rel­a­tively re­mote area just over 100 kilo­me­tres from Opotiki. Like many other re­gions rich in M-aori land, much of the whenua is un­der-utilised and is there­fore ripe for de­vel­op­ment such as ki­wifruit or­chards. But de­spite be­ing not far from other suc­cess­ful or­chards, that de­vel­op­ment hasn't hap­pened, and she looked deeply into why that might be, and what could be done to change that. What she found was a num­ber of bar­ri­ers to de­vel­op­ment, the biggest be­ing ac­cess to cap­i­tal, and the dif­fi­culty of timely de­ci­sion-mak­ing when – as is of­ten the case – there are mul­ti­ple landown­ers in­volved with a piece of land.

“But where there are chal­lenges there is also of­ten op­por­tu­nity,” she said.

“In the case of mul­ti­ple-own­er­ship, for ex­am­ple, there can be hold-ups with de­ci­sion-mak­ing, but at the same time you have a num­ber of peo­ple who have a vested in­ter­est in the land and that can be a big ad­van­tage.”

At the core of her re­search is the im­por­tance of eco­nomic pros­per­ity in the re­gions, and how ki­wifruit can both gain from that – by ac­cess­ing pro­duc­tive land – and con­trib­ute to it.

“It’s re­ally about the im­pact on re­gional New Zealand as we try to meet the grow­ing de­mand for ki­wifruit de­vel­op­ment,” she said.

“The Govern­ment’s strat­egy to foster re­gional pros­per­ity aligns with global growth op­por­tu­ni­ties in ki­wifruit. Ze­spri’s growth strat­egy and mar­ket de­mand. The com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor is that the re­gions are key to achiev­ing that.”

Tak­ing a peo­ple-cen­tric ap­proach by con­duct­ing sur­veys on-line, via post and kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face), she iden­ti­fied three key themes that needed to be ad­dressed;

• The im­pact of in­dus­try growth on peo­ple;

• The im­pact on the land; and

• The im­por­tance of so­cial in­vest­ment.

The peo­ple of Te Whanau Apanui – and other re­gions like it – want mean­ing­ful em­ploy­ment and de­vel­op­ment in their com­mu­ni­ties that takes care of their ba­sic needs.That means ev­ery­thing from hav­ing ac­cess to a de­cent su­per­mar­ket to not hav­ing to drive over 100 kilo­me­tres to buy petrol.

“Just those sim­ple things mean peo­ple have more money in their pock­ets and that can make a big dif­fer­ence to their lives.” In terms of the po­ten­tial im­pact on the land, M-aori took their role as kaiti­aki (guardians) se­ri­ously and needed ac­cess to the right in­for­ma­tion about, for ex­am­ple, onor­chard prac­tices. And with re­gard to so­cial in­vest­ment, the up­shot of de­vel­op­ment had to be bet­ter con­di­tions for the com­mu­nity and its peo­ple, not worse.

While her re­port looks into those is­sues closely, she be­lieves more work must be done to truly un­der­stand the po­ten­tial di­rect and in­di­rect ef­fects of ki­wifruit ex­pan­sion. “My pas­sion and my pur­pose is all about M-aori land de­vel­op­ment and help­ing whanau grow their whenua. Ki­wifruit of­fers an al­ter­na­tive growth op­por­tu­nity for our peo­ple. We have the land . . . now we just need to fig­ure out how to make it work.”

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