An idea born out of seeing a neighbour dumping olive tree prunings has grown into a business which is about to take a Far North teenager to the world's biggest trade fair.
Max Donaldson, of Takou Bay, will be part of the New Zealand delegation at the World Expo in Dubai when it kicks off in January.
The 17-year-old, who has just finished Year 13 at Kerikeri High School, won the Northland-wide Young Enterprise Scheme last year.
His company, GreenKiwi Supplements, produces a dietary supplement made from olive orchard waste.
Now, after pitching his business to trade officials, Donaldson has been chosen to help represent New Zealand at the expo — while also trying to land some export deals for his product.
Donaldson got the idea when he spotted his neighbour, Ian Sizer, feeding prunings from his olive grove to his cows.
''I saw that and thought, 'Let's actually use that in a product','' he said.
He already knew olive leaves were used in dietary supplements but his research showed him the products available here were all produced overseas, despite Northland's plentiful olive orchards.
Donaldson enlisted the help of scientists at the Cawthron Institute in Nelson and AsureQuality in Auckland to develop a way of turning raw leaves into a supplement without compromising the active ingredients.
After freeze-drying and drop-milling the resulting powder is formulated and encapsulated.
The next step was differentiating his product from others already on the market.
''So we thought about how we could create a really cool story about sustainability. It's about making a product in the best way possible,'' he said.
His product, GreenKiwi OliveXtract, is now sold online and in Hardy's Health Stores around the country.
Only one other student company, based in Otago, has been selected to accompany a bevy of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) officials to Dubai.
Donaldson said they were chosen based on how well their businesses align with NZTE's message at the expo, which was ''care for people and place''.
Most of his time would be spent helping promote New Zealand but he had also lined up a number of meetings with distributors in the hope of securing an export deal to the United Arab Emirates.
Donaldson said the country's dietary supplement market was ''huge'' and growing at 18 per cent a year.
It was driven by the current global interest in immune systems but also by a government drive to improve heart health.
As Emiratis increasingly adopted western-style fast food, at the cost of their traditional diet, that was leading to western-style health problems, he said.
Next year Donaldson planned to start a Bachelor of Commerce in Christchurch.
He also planned to keep his GreenKiwi business going with the aim of creating jobs and becoming a significant contributor to Northland's economy.
He hoped to turn a tonne of olive leaf waste into extract by 2025.
''It's not about getting rich, it's about doing what we can with this product.''