June saw the official launch in Tauranga of the Maori Kiwifruit Growers’ Forum, a first for the industry. The forum has been created to advocate for the interests of Maori growers in the sector.

Officially incorporated in March, Bay of Plenty Business News understands the forum has been developed by various stakeholders in the sector over the past year or so. It has been formally launched as a partnership between Maori kiwifruit growers, Te Puni Kokiri and kiwifruit export marketing entity Zespri.

Minister for Maori Development Te Ururoa Flavell attended the launch at Te Hua Whenua Orchard in Welcome Bay.

Zespri chief executive Lain Jager said Maori growers were an important and growing part of the kiwifruit industry.

“This is about supporting the development of a really strong and cohesive eco-system for Maori growers in the New Zealand kiwifruit industry,” he said.

“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,.”

The forum has appointed 11 committee members to lead the forum including Tiaki Hunia as chairman, with Te Puni Kokiri committing funding for the next two years.

Hunia said at the launch he expected the forum to provide Maori 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 Maori growers from their current eight percent share of Zespri production to 20 percent. We also want to play a role in providing growers with opportunities to gain education and training to ensure their businesses thrive.”

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated chief executive Nikki Johnson said NZKGI welcomed the new forum.

“As an advocate for all kiwifruit growers in New Zealand, NZKGI is looking forward to working closely with the Maori Kiwifruit Growers’ Forum in the future to support this important part of our industry.”

Source: Bay of Plenty Business news