It was a short notice, flying visit from National MP for Rangitikei Ian McKelvie with Wairarapa National candidate Mike Butterick and staff on Thursday, September 24 but Ngati Kahungunu was only too ready to talk about their initiatives to promote the research, production and marketing of hemp to anyone with the wish to listen and possibly the power in the future to help them.
Hayden Hape, chairman of the Ngāti Kahungunu ki Tāmaki nui-a-Rua Board, quickly put together a morning tea, samples of hemp products and a concise but informative audio-visual presentation hosted by new marketing manager Adam Webster which soon captured the interest of their visitors.
■ They heard about the 10 year investigation into the potential of hemp,
■ Its massive versatility in products ranging from building blocks to cooking oil and seed to medicines,
■ Successful trials to grow hemp in the Tararua,
■ A partnership with a Chinese company Qiaopai Biotech which could soon result in a processing plant being built locally,
■ A partnership with Massey University to develop other products one being hemp milk,
■ Research into the environmental benefits of hemp growing.
Mike Butterick was already familiar with some hemp products having had a cousin in Midland Seeds who had been involved in hemp.
Both he and Ian McKelvie readily tried the samples of products and pronounced them "very good" before agreeing that the $10 million development costs of furthering the project to its conclusion was a fair price for such an industry.
They also heard about the tourism potential planned by Ngati Kahungunu for the old Infracon site in Woodville incorporating the wind farm and high tech experiences.
The party left after an hour fully acquainted with the potential in food production and tourism heading for the races in Woodville before travelling on.