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Incorporations invest in berry venture

Three Maori incorporations in this district have invested in a new partnership between the Ministry of Social Development and Miro Limited Partnership, a Maori-owned berry fruit company.

The three are Ngati Porou Holdings Ltd, Hauiti Trust in Tolaga Bay and the Wi Pere Trust.

A number of other Maori land-based businesses here have expressed interest.

With funding from the Ministry of Social Development, Miro, which is owned by more than 20 Maori trusts, iwi and entities across Northland, Bay of Plenty, East Coast, Taranaki and Nelson/Marlborough, has launched its employment and training programme.

Miro aims to build a global export berry fruit business, owned and run by Maori, on Maori-owned land, using new horticultural technologies and IP.

MSD funding will support the employment and training of up to 40 staff on Miro orchards over the next 12 months.

Willie Jackson, Minister of Employment and Associate Minister for Maori Development, attended and spoke at the launch, hosted by Ngati Haua at the iwi’s Rukumoana Marae in Morrinsville.

“In towns like Gisborne, Opotiki, Whakatane, Motueka and Kaitaia, this could be a truly transformative opportunity. We want to raise employment across those communities and place Maori in the role of business leadership, with all the social and economic benefits that become possible when people get the chance to use their whenua to gain self-determination.”

More than 20 hectares of orchard developments are planned in the next 12 months. The Miro landowners and developers will need everything from labourers through to horticultural managers.

The programme covers pre-employment training, employment placement, industry specific training, pastoral care, relocation services, employment subsidy and some additional services.

Miro director Steve Saunders said Miro was aiming to build a berry exporter every bit as successful as Zespri.

“We will own the value chain end-to-end. Over the next nine years Miro will need more than 100 skilled orchard managers, create more than 5000 jobs, plant 500 hectares of berries, return over $100m in revenue to growers per annum, and inject over $500m into local economies.

“We’re not talking about berries being sold on the side of the road. We’re talking about sophisticated horticultural development, selling premium berries into sophisticated markets across Asia and Australia.”

Miro chairwoman Rukumoana Schaafhausen said Miro want to create sustainable jobs for families on their own land.

“Upskill them in horticulture, fruit production and owning their own business. Imagine working with your whanau, on whanau land, in a berry business owned by your whanau, hapu or iwi. Miro helps us achieve that vision.”

Miro aims to to drive and develop the berry industry and the regional Maori economy for current and future generations. Picture by Duncan Brown via NZ Herald.