The Whenua Māori Fund was set up to assist owners and trustees of Māori freehold land to prepare for new opportunities, improve existing operations and utilise unused land. We profile ten initiatives from Te Taitokerau (Far North) to Te Waipounamu (South Island) who received a total of $1.15m covering nearly 48,000 hectares of land. The Fund provides $12.8 million over four years and is part of the wider Te Ture Whenua Māori reform designed to give Māori landowners more say and control over what happens with their whenua.
Published: Wednesday, 8 February 2017 | Rāapa, 08 Huitanguru, 2017
Ngā Ngāhere Mōmona – Taitokerau Māori Forestry
Te Tai Tokerau Māori Forestry Collective with support from the Whenua Māori Fund of $266,000 is trialling a prototype and attracting new investors.
Te Tai Tokerau Māori Forestry Collective has a current membership of 10 Māori Trusts/Incorporations who collectively own over 32,000ha of land. The funded project is a prototype that will plant up to 813ha in exotic pine between five of the trusts and will enable the collective to capture key learnings and information for its other members to begin bringing their lands into production.
The collective seeks to increase the productive use of Māori owned assets, increase employment and skills in the region by trialling this prototype to attract new investors. Their vision statement ‘kua oti to tātou whare whakairo’ emphasises self-determination and self-reliance.
Collective growth – Oparau Station Trust
With the support of $99,925 from the Whenua Māori Fund, the Oparau Station Trust will work with four other farms to identify their individual potential before exploring what a relationship across the five farms could look like (e.g. supplier agreements, land management under one entity approach) and become a price maker instead of a price taker. The project also looks at specific governance mentoring to support the trustees to make future or projected investment decisions.
Te Rau Aroha Trust
Te Rau Aroha Trust with the support of $195,480 from the Whenua Māori Fund are leading the Omaio Kiwifruit Development project.
Owners of 766ha of Māori freehold land in Waikato-Waiariki region, have a long-term aspiration to develop 150 canopy hectares of kiwifruit over 7 years, creating 100 new local jobs for the whānau.
The Trust will also get to examine nine land blocks for potential conversion from maize to kiwifruit production.
Being active owners - Te Kohera-Kakaho Trust
Te Kohera-Kakaho Trust has 1219ha of Māori freehold land in Waikato-Waiariki region. The Whenua Māori Fund will provide $65,000 to support the Trust with their land productivity project.
The long-term aspiration for this project is to develop unused land, improve business capability and move from passive owners to active managers of their land.
The Trust will assess their assets and identify options to better utilise and bring the land into production. This will include exploring re-afforestation including mānuka for honey production or other commercial activities and the potential of aquaculture such as koura farming.
Seeking alternatives – Chadwick Family Trust
While based in Ikaroa-Rāwhiti region, the Chadwick Family Trust were succesful in securing $43,200 from the Whenua Māori Fund for their forestry block located in the Te Taihauāuru region.
The Chadwick Family Trust’s Waituhi Kuratau forestry block is nearing harvest time and the trustees want to gain a comprehensive understanding of the current state of the forest block and forestry industry while at the same time obtaining detailed information about suitable land use options post-harvest.
The trustees’ feasibility study will focus on the forestry block situation near State Highway 41 between Tūrangi and Taupō.
The long term goal is to explore the options to develop and maximise the potential of the land once the trees are harvested for a prosperous whānau.
Exploring horticulture – Ohuia Incorporation
Ohuia Incorporation in the Ikaroa – Rāwhiri region with 300ha of Māori freehold land is exploring their horticulture options.
The Fund is contributing $50,000 to support Ohuia with their long-term aspiration to create employment and training opportunities through horticultural developments such as apple orchards; and organic maize.
Ohuia will investigate the sustainability of the land for horticulture developments. The project will provide a due diligence report on the capability of the land for horticultural developments and prepare the Trustees for investment opportunities required to move forward.
Land to brand - Awatere B Trust
The Trust will also develop a Land Use Management and Information tool that will identify existing Mānuka stands, hive management and honey flow. The tool (an e-whenua platform) will support the land trusts to make decisions on best utilisation of their existing Mānuka stands.
Te Tai Hauāuru
Te tuituinga whakamua – Tupoki Takarangi Trust
Tupoki Takarangi Trust in Te Taihauāuru region with the support of $75,000 from the Whenua Māori Fund are investigating options for their three blocks.
This project will produce a feasibility investigation report, business cases and a strategic plan to prepare the trustees for investment decisions required to move forward.
Production potential for Reureu Kotahitanga
Reureu Kotahitanga Ltd were successful in receiving $118,500 from the Whenua Māori Fund which was established to help landowners utilise unused land, improve existing operations or prepare for new opportunities.
In Te Taihauāuru region, the Kotahitanga project is using the Fund to identify opportunities for developing an initial 200ha (approx.) with the possibility of increasing scale.
The project is looking to work collaboratively across 20 blocks to initially develop the 200ha with the possibility of increasing the scale up to 1,000ha.
Kiwi spotting - Rakiura Māori Lands Trust
The Rakiura Māori Lands Trust in Te Waipounamu successfully applied to the Whenua Māori Fund.
The Fund is supporting Rakiura with $65,000 to assess the opportunity of generating sustainable revenue streams for the landowners through a tourism venture.
The long term aspirations of the Rakiura Māori Lands Trust for their owners and their local community include the development of a joint tourism venture, retaining and passing on traditional knowledge and to support the natural wildlife and the eradication of pests and predators.
It is intended that with the support of the Fund, the trustees will be prepared for investment decisions required to move towards an eco-tourism joint kiwi spotting venture.
Round three of the Fund is now open and closes on 17 February 2017 more information can be found at http://www.tpk.govt.nz/en/whakamahia/land-and-environment/whenua-maori-fund/