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New name, new horizons

Tairawhiti-based Hikurangi Cannabis Company has announced its board of directors, a global export strategy and a name change as it positions itself to become a world leader in medicinal cannabis production.

Ahead of New Zealand’s Medicinal Cannabis Scheme becoming operational early next year, the company has appointed experienced independent chairman, Trevor Burt, to lead its board.

Burt has extensive corporate executive and governance experience having served in global executive roles and on the boards of agricultural companies PGG Wrightson, Landpower, Silver Fern Farms and Market Gardeners NZ, and as chairman of Lyttleton Port and Ngai Tahu Holdings.

Burt is joined by independent director Anna Stove, former general manager of GlaxoSmithKline NZ, who brings 25 years of global experience within the pharmaceutical sector across Asia, Europe and New Zealand.

Burt and Stove are the latest appointments to the board, which also includes three directors — Hikurangi co-founder Panapa Ehau, Brett Gamble, who has a background in corporate finance and private equity globally working in the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand, and Martin Smith, who brings 25 years experience in consumer goods and global marketing as former chief executive for L’Oreal NZ and previously as a regional director for L’Oreal across Asia Pacific, Western Europe, Africa, India and the Middle East.

“We’ve got an outstanding board with the range of skills and expertise we need to build a diversified business along the value chain,” company chief executive Manu Caddie said.

“Over the last 12 months the business has been focused on laying the solid foundations to build a resilient, sustainable, fully integrated business with multiple, diverse revenue streams within the medicinal cannabis sector.

“We are linking to a high-performing investment and innovation ecosystem from genetics and cultivation technology, to research, manufacturing, product development, pharmaceuticals and marketing.

“Within this sunrise industry, the context in which the business is operating is constantly evolving. Over the last year, the board and management have made significant progress to ensure that the business is match-fit at the starting line in 2020.

“You have to ignore the hype and get on with the hard mahi required to be in pole position when we get the green light from the regulators.

“We are working towards understanding the full potential of cannabinoids to enhance and restore health, naturally, safely and effectively.”

The work undertaken by the board and management team this year would be critical to position the company at the cutting edge of the medicinal cannabis industry worldwide, with investments in research and development to discover and unlock the true potential of the plant.

The company was also investing in long-term relationships with leading plant research organisations and medical researchers in New Zealand and internationally.

Chairman Trevor Burt said he was excited by the company and its purpose.

“The foundations of this company are something special and mean so much to the local community in the East Coast.

“Success can have such an impact on the local community, and I see an important part of my role as providing a bridge between successful commercial outcomes and community outcomes.

“I have joined a board with the broad skills to steer this company to reach its full commercial potential — the type of skills we are seeing the world’s leading medicinal cannabis companies are appointing to their boards.

“But, just as importantly, people attracted to this company aren’t just focused on financial success. They are acutely aware of social impacts back at the flax roots. This is an exciting industry going through an exciting time and it’s great to be involved.”

The business had a clear strategy to become a world leader in research and development of plant genetics and medicines derived from the cannabis plant, he said.

“The company’s opportunity once the new regulations come in early next year is to grow, manufacture and export GMP certified pharmaceutical products.”

With the global medicinal cannabis market estimated to be worth over $100 billion by 2026, the company’s competition would be international, not local, industry players.

“New Zealand has an excellent heritage in horticultural intellectual property, where we have taken a global leadership position in plant genetics and research to create unique high-value products. This company is looking to replicate that excellence in cannabis cultivars to create innovative new health products that carry the highest pharmaceutical grade certification backed by robust clinical evidence to give confidence to prescribers and patients.”

Mr Caddie said while the company was thinking global, it remained committed to sustainable economic development in the Ruatoria and East Coast community and to create jobs within this region and beyond.

As part of the company’s development, it had changed its name to Rua Bioscience.

“Indigenous innovation and Hikurangi Enterprises’ kaupapa to use the power of the plant to heal the people and the land, will continue to underpin the company’s mission and values and ensure we remain unique in New Zealand and around the world.

“It will continue to drive new opportunities for our community in Ruatoria and across the East Coast as the company grows. But the name Hikurangi needs to remain in the community.”

Hikurangi Cannabis Company grew under the umbrella of Hikurangi Enterprises to work towards creating sustainable economic development and job creation, focused on the opportunity in the sunrise medicinal cannabis industry.

“The name Hikurangi needs to remain with Hikurangi Enterprises and our whanau living in the shadow of the mountain.”

The company’s new website went live earlier this week, with the full transition to the new name to be completed by the end of October.

AIMING HIGH: Hikurangi Cannabis Company’s board brings together expertise across primary industries and exports, pharmaceuticals, global finance and marketing. They are, from left, Brett Gamble, Anna Stove, Panapa Ehau, Martin Smith and company CEO Manu Caddie. Inset, chairman Trevor Burt. Picture supplied