Whenua Māori support for Te Teko blueberry orchard

Published: 8 July, 2020

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The Meihana Koata Trust will receive a $2.1 million loan from the Provincial Growth Fund’s (PGF) Whenua Māori allocation to support an 18.8 hectare blueberry orchard initiative in Te Teko.

Dr Hohepa Mason giving an address. Behind him is a Miro berries sign.

Dr Hohepa Mason gives an address at the funding announcement in Te Teko on 26 June 2020.

The Trust will work in partnership with Miro, a collective of 29 Māori iwi, hapū and whānau collaborating to support Māori land and people.

Dr Hohepa Mason, the Chair of Meihana Koata Trust, said the initiative has benefits for both people and the whenua.

"This project creates valuable jobs for our people and brings the land back to life. We’re growing kai and working our land again, but in a very different and innovative way,” said Dr Mason.

"Our mokopuna will have skills in modern horticulture, and a farm that will sustain our people into the future."

Steve Saunders, Miro director, said the organisation’s vision was to transform Māori land and people through high-value horticulture.

"We started with blueberries because they are a recognised superfood and demand has been growing globally in double digits for the last decade,” said Mr Saunders.

"It’s also about learning to grow in modern horticulture systems, a lighter footprint, where sustainability is at the heart of the growing. These blueberries will rival returns seen in gold kiwifruit over time, and New Zealand needs to produce more high value crops that sustain our reputation for high quality, safe food.

"We believe telling the stories of our land and people will set us apart on the world’s stage. Internationally, people are captivated by the story of Māori, the idea that we’ve been growing in Aotearoa for 1,000 years, and our relationship and deep respect for the environment around us."

People wearing yellow high vis vests standing together in a blueberry orchard.

The blueberry initiative is a joint initiative between the Meihana Koata Trust and Miro, a collective of 29 Māori iwi, hapū and whānau.