A student business run by three young Far North women has topped a region-wide Dragon's Den-style pitch to investors.
Parakore produces a cleansing tea based on Northland ingredients and rongoa Maori (traditional healing), and is run by Kerikeri High students Shannen Frear, Kristin Mellar and Billie Klinac.
The company is part of the Young Enterprise Scheme in which students learn about business by creating a new product or service, setting up a real company, and making a real profit or loss.
Challenges were held in Whangarei, Kerikeri and Kaitaia, with the top two teams in each facing off at a Taniwha Tank in Whangarei where the students had to pitch their ideas to a panel of business leaders. Parakore won, with the trio earlier placing second in a business card competition and fourth for their business plan.
Shannen, 17, put their success down to a passion for health and fitness, and a desire to embrace Maori culture.
"We feel like the importance of Maori healing plants has been lost," she said.
Kristin, 18, said the tea was made from manuka leaf, kawakawa leaf and Kerikeri orange rind. The ingredients, chosen for their health-giving properties, were dehydrated, grated and put into tea bags in the school's commercial kitchen.
Billie, 17, said the tea was sold via outlets in Kerikeri, Mangawhai and Wellington. They hoped to keep the business going next year though they were all heading off to different universities.
About 50 teams are taking part in this year's YES programme. On August 19 they will showcase their products at a trade fair at Kerikeri's Packhouse Market, and on October 20 the overall winners will be announced at an awards dinner in Waitangi.