A $30 million kiwifruit investment has been announced for Bay of Plenty Maori.
The project is believed to be the single largest kiwifruit investment on Maori land. It will involve 10 orchards being set up in several locations in the Bay of Plenty and Gisborne area, including Matakana Island.
Maori trust Te Tumu Paeroa, in partnership with Quayside Holdings, today announced the 18-month plan.
We want to see Maori land owners involved in the whole process - developing skills and hands-on experience in running kiwifruit orchards on the ground as well as in the boardroom.
More than 90ha of semi- and unproductive land will be converted into grower businesses with the aiming of improving the long-term benefit of its owners and their community.
Te Tumu Paeroa developed a model allowing full ownership of the orchards to transfer to land owners in an estimated 12 to 17 years, after achieving a targeted rate of return on capital invested. In the interim, the land will be leased and Te Tumu Paeroa will build and operate the businesses, carrying the financial risk.
Te Tumu Paeroa chief executive and Maori trustee Jamie Tuuta said the programme would create a legacy for generations to come.
"A core part of our programme is building the capability of landowners to successfully govern the business when it comes time to transfer ownership to them. We want to see Maori land owners involved in the whole process - developing skills and hands-on experience in running kiwifruit orchards on the ground as well as in the boardroom."
By 2030, based on today's return, the orchards are expected to generate over $80,000 per hectare per annum of $7.1m by growing a mixture of premium gold kiwifruit and traditional green kiwifruit. In the 2015/16 season the average return for green kiwifruit was a record $56,673 per hectare.
"It's difficult for Maori landowners to develop businesses on their land unless they have access to capital from other means, because many don't want to use the land as security on a loan," Mr Tuuta said.
"As a result, owners usually contract out the land to businesses who do have access to capital and can reap the financial rewards for taking the entrepreneurial risk. Maori landowners are missing out. Our programme addresses that, putting businesses in the hands of landowners."
Te Tumu Paeroa successfully piloted the approach, planting two new orchards in the Bay of Plenty over the past three years. Over 9ha of kiwifruit vines were planted in 2016 and the first fruit will be harvested from the orchards next year.
"The benefits of this programme are more than just financial. It will enable owners to reconnect with their whenua and support them to achieve their long-term aspirations for their land."
On Matakana Island, owners of Whai Orchards have already set up a Maori reservation to restore historic pa sites and establish an urupa (cemetery). View a video of Whai Orchard on videos below.
Mr Tuuta said the trust expected to be able to name the land blocks in a few months' time when building is set to begin.