New Berry Venture for Maori-Owned Business

The story of high-value crops in New Zealand is taking a juicy twist as a Maori-owned horticulture business seeks to become ‘the Zespri of berries.’

10 Billion Mouths - Co-hosted by Wharf42, sponsored by Yamaha - Headline event at Techweek Tauranga 18

Supporters of Miro, owned by 20 Maori trusts, iwis and collectives, laid out their vision during Techweek Tauranga’s 10 Billion Mouths event.

Liz Te Amo of Te Hono told a group during a session at ASB Arena Miro’s goal was to employ Maori while creating the perfect tasty, consistent blueberry for Asian and Australian markets. “We’ll create 5000 jobs... We want to be training Maori to move up the chain, to break out of the picking and packing mentality.”

Miro director Steve Saunders, who co-founded the globally marketed Rockit apple and is also the owner and board chairman of RPL and the Plus Group, said collaboration sits at the core of Miro’s story. “New Zealand is world-leading in indigenous rights. It’s how we pull everything together to make that vision happen.”

Partners include Callaghan Innovation, Crown research institute Plant and Food Research and the Ministry of Social Development, which aims to support 40 people into orchard employment in the next 12 months. Miro planners expect a 20 per cent average cash return over nine years, bringing $500 million to the national economy.

Plants will be grown using precision horticulture methods in substrate-filled pots, drip-fed in tunnel houses. Te Amo said Miro will oversee nearly every aspect of the value chain. “We’ll have ownership of the IP varieties and will be creating an authentic brand.”

Food and beverage innovator Dale Pearce came from Auckland for 10 Billion Mouths. Pearce said the Miro ecosystem has been well planned. “The only way we can solve big social problems is through business models. So I really love the way that’s been very carefully included. I think the execution will be the challenge... there will be new tools and capabilities that will be required to make it work.”

Encouraging Maori innovation was a theme woven throughout Techweek Tauranga. Young Maoris, other college students, plus more mature learners had the chance to envision the future during a workshop called Grow Plenty at Venture Centre’s co-working space, Basestation.  A staff member of event sponsor Trustpower said Grow Plenty and Venture Centre inspire entrepreneurship. “Venture Centre really is a fantastic hub/resource for entrepreneurs in our community, and shares our drive for innovation as a core business value. We support the Grow Plenty initiative as it encourages thinking beyond current boundaries and exploring future possibilities,” said Trustpower strategy and growth advisor Darryl McConnell.

Techweek is New Zealand’s annual festival of innovation, with more than 500 events nationwide from 19-27 May 2018. It featured regional, national and international speakers and companies. This year’s theme: innovation that’s good for the world.

Techweek Tauranga 2018 is curated, coordinated and promoted by Venture Centre.

Venture Centre works to connect people on enterprising journeys - with each other and the mindset, skillset, toolsets, networks and resources they need - to build an ecosystem that delivers real-world, learn-by-doing events, activities, projects and experiences.
Techweek Tauranga 2018  is supported by Tauranga City and Western Bay of Plenty District Councils.

Read 1671 times Last modified on 05/06/2018