The economic opportunities to Northland and the country from hemp production will be outlined tonight by three Far North woman who have been growing the plant in trials under a Government licence.
Hemp has long been seen by some as a potentially valuable contributor to the Northland and national economies, but by others as the back door to legalising cannabis.
Three women who believe implicitly in the former and reject the latter will explain what they see as a huge commercial opportunity for Te Hiku at Ahipara's Roma Marae tonight from 6pm.
TeRana Porter, one of the directors of Koe Koea Hemp - alongside Tui Qauqau-TePaa and Aorangi Logan - said finding a "one fit" solution to problems ranging from climate change to growing poverty, homelessness and unemployment might seem insurmountable.
"Enter industrial hemp, an ecological and economic miracle plant that is capable of addressing all these issues, and more," Porter said.
"Hemp is the only known plant that can heal, house, feed, clothe and transport us. It is reported to have 50,000 different uses, and is considered the most versatile plant in the world."
A group of Te Rarawa Kaiwhare wahine who had a vision for the long-term environmental and economic well-being of the Far North are hosting tonight's discussion - Hemp in Te Hiku - to explain its economic potential.
Koe Koea Hemp, founded by Qauqau-TePaa, had its beginnings in a Kai Karanga wananga, and discussions about the overwhelmingly difficult cultural and socio-economic conditions that were faced by Far North whanau, Porter said.
"A plethora of possible solutions ensued, but none as holistically suited to our terrain, climate, skill base and green communal spirit as industrial hemp. It ticked all their boxes," she said.
At tonight's event local, national and international speakers will include Richard Barge, from the NZ Hemp Industries Association, who said it had been legal to grow the plant in New Zealand since 2006, but legislative restrictions inhibited the production of many hemp products, especially seed foods.
"Eighteen years of lobbying will finally see a change of the food law this year, allowing hemp seed foods to be produced for human consumption," Barge said.
Growers in the North would also face a lack of the processing and manufacturing plant that would be needed to add value to their crops.
"Investment in these areas will help realise the potential of this amazing plant," he said.
"Industrial hemp is grown under licence and has no value as a drug. It is simply another arable crop that should become a large part of our green economic growth strategy."