Te Wai Pounamu iwi Ngāi Tahu Holdings has bought into a Hawke's Bay-headquartered apple growing and exporting business for an undisclosed sum.
John Loughlin, chairman of apple business Rockit, said the iwi had bought 6 per cent but the price was confidential.
"Ngāi Tahu Holdings expressed an interest in Rockit late last year," Loughlin said today.
The iwi already had a stake in the private equity fund Pioneer Capital which already owned a slice of Rockit, he said.
"So it became aware we were raising money last year from our existing shareholders," he said.
The small, sweet miniature apples are a cross between Gala and Gala Splendour.
Rockit holds exclusive global rights for the fruit grown in nine countries, including New Zealand.
Loughlin said the business managed some orchards owned by others, grew its own apples and owned a packhouse in Hastings. A new packhouse had just been opened, replacing the Havelock North base, he said.
This year's turnover would be about $80 million, he said "and we're growing at around 40 per cent on average".
Apples are exported to 28 countries, including China and the Middle East. New markets include Kuwait and India.
The iwi had big plans, Loughlin said, so Rockit envisaged an exciting future with its new stake.
Pioneer remained the largest shareholder in Rockit with about 40 per cent, he said.
Iwi chief executive Mike Pohio said the purchase would enable the apple exporter to expand.
"This opportunity will benefit both sides by providing Rockit with more capacity for future orchard developments, as well as further diversifying and increasing the growth profile of our portfolio.
"This investment is consistent with our overall strategy and is a wonderful opportunity to work alongside a fast-growing, innovative New Zealand company with a strong team."
Rockit said its first export shipment went to Taiwan in 2013.
Now, the apples, which are sold overseas in distinctive plastic tubes and in small cardboard trays in New Zealand, are available in 28 countries.
TDB Advisory said Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu was New Zealand's largest iwi business in terms of assets in dollar terms. Its rohe spanned the majority of the South Island and it had about 68,000 members in 2020.
"Ngāi Tahu received $170m in cash in 1997. It was also given the option of purchasing a range of Crown assets to generate income for social development and asset-preservation purposes. Since 2012 Ngāi Tahu has received an additional $300m in relativity settlements, including $2.6m in 2020," TDB said.
Its asset base had grown to $1.8 billion last year, an average growth rate of 8.5 per cent annually. Net worth of financial assets rose from $877m to $1.5b in the same
period, an average growth rate of 8.2 per cent annually.
Property dominates its portfolio, constituting 42 per cent of total assets, in residential and commercial being developed or held for sale, rental income and capital appreciation.