The Māori Kiwifruit Growers Forum was officially launched today in Tauranga, representing a first for the kiwifruit industry.
The forum has been created to advocate for the interests of Māori growers in the sector and is a partnership between Māori kiwifruit growers, Te Puni Kōkiri and Zespri.
Minister for Māori Development, Hon Te Ururoa Flavell attended the launch today at Te Hua Whenua Orchard in Welcome Bay.
Zespri CEO Lain Jager said Zespri works for all kiwifruit growers to provide the tools and information they need to grow their businesses and Maori growers are an important and growing part of the kiwifruit industry.
“This is about supporting the development of a really strong and cohesive eco-system for Māori growers in the New Zealand kiwifruit industry. Maori have recognised the need for this forum, where specific skills and information sharing will help grow the success of their kiwifruit investment, and we are proud to support them,” said Mr Jager.
Eleven committee members including Tiaki Hunia as Chairman, have been appointed to lead the forum, officially incorporated in March 2017, with Te Puni Kōkiri committing funding for the next two years.
Speaking at the launch, Mr Hunia said he expected the forum to provide Māori growers with timely and relevant data and information to support their decision-making, and help them see increased net returns from their work.
“Longer term, we hope to lift Māori growers from their current eight percent share of Zespri production up to 20 percent,” he said.
“We also want to play a role in providing growers with opportunities to gain education and training to ensure their businesses thrive.”
Chief Executive of New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) Nikki Johnson said NZKGI welcomed the newly-appointed Forum. “As an advocate for all kiwifruit growers in New Zealand, NZKGI is looking forward to working closely with the Māori Kiwifruit Growers Forum in the future to support this important part of our industry.”