Future dividends for Taniwha and Dragon

By Patrick O'Sullivan -
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The $100 million target for the two-day Taniwha Dragon Economic Summit was easily surpassed but the relationships forged will pay larger and longer dividends, says Summit organiser and Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Inc chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana.

Held at Clubs Hastings, the Summit was limited to 250 people but could have sold more than 350 of its $1000 tickets.

On the final day of the high-paced conference, where parties were encouraged to "speed date" with each other, Mr Tomoana outlined known deals agreed during the summit.

He said people from China, Samoa, Cook Islands, Australia and New Zealand - including three government ministers - presented at the conference "offering a kaleidoscope of opportunities".

Mr Tomoana set an aspirational target of $100m worth of deals done between Maori and Chinese companies which was easily exceeded.

He said, on the first day, a $53m investment was announced, there was by one hapu and whanau into the Kahungunu area.

Later that day two Chinese companies made "overtures" to establish a value-added food production unit in Hawke's Bay to $25m.

Also on day one a Chinese fishing company was looking at a $20m investment in the New Zealand fishing industry with Maori, a Maori company was buying land for feijoas at the cost of $10 million and a Chinese company wished to buy $10m worth of salmon.

On Tuesday Tainui announced a $20m joint venture with Ngati Kahungunu "and then moving into other aspects of our economy".

The timing of the summit was to complement Ngati Kahungunu's hosting of this week's national kapa haka festival Te Matatini.

At the summit opening Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule, said the summit was being held at an opportune time, with Treaty of Waitangi settlements from the government coming on-stream.

Zhou Jinwang of China's second-largest fishing company, Shanghai Fisheries, said its fleet of 80 ships could not meet Chinese demand and sought international joint ventures.

Alibaba Group director of business development Australia and New Zealand John O'Loghlen said the Maori story and its links with Chinese culture was something many businesses "would die to have".

He said the Chinese market was moving away from commodity items towards branded products "where you need to be able to tell your story".

Summit co-host was Chairman Chan of Lei Garden, who employs 2500 people in his food businesses which include 26 Michelin-starred restaurants, is targeting more New Zealand produce for a large chain of bistros.

He said New Zealand was a world leader in food safety thanks to "the ideal combination of regulatory environment and natural resources".

At the Summit dinner he announced he would build a Hawke's Bay food processing facility once surety of supply was confirmed for a planned chain of bistros.

Before dinner Chinese investors were given 10 minutes each with Prime Minister Bill English.

He asked how so many high-powered Chinese investors were brought to Hawke's Bay and said he was told it was because "no one can say no to Ngahiwi".

"What you are doing here is just so important," he said.

The "unique" mix of Maori, pakeha and Chinese was the future of New Zealand "and what Ngahiwi and Ngati Kahungunu have done is show us the path".

On Tuesday, Shanghai Pengxin president of investment Terry Lee said there was a natural affinity between Maori and Chinese.

"Someone told me they think Maori is easier to learn than English," he said.

"Maybe it is because we are relatives."

The government's refusal to allow Shanghai Pengxin to buy Lochinvar Station near Taupo showed the company it was going to be "very difficult" to buy land in New Zealand and a way forward was joint ventures.

Following him was a Maori dairy company Miraka detailing its success supplying Shanghai Pengxin with UHT milk from former Crafar farms for export to China.

Australian Deputy High Commissioner Andrew Cumpston said Australia and New Zealand were strategic partners for trade with China.

Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna said his nation was open for business and outlined several opportunities for growth and invited Ngati Kahungunu to help ascertain the potential of its fishery.

Mr English said Hawke's Bay had energy and pride "and it is that pride that is attracting the investors".

"There are so many rich stories."

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