Māori delegation sees work at grassroots level in Japan

By Ripeka Timutimu

Prime Minister John Key has announced his attendance at Singapore's 50th anniversary celebration, highlighting the importance of relationships between the countries.

A Māori business delegation carries the same sentiments as the Prime Minister.  They're all geared up to find out what buyers Tokyo want. 

Te Awanui Huka Pak Chairman, Neil Te Kani says it's important for Māori to see where their fruit goes and how important work at the grassroots level in their orchards really is.

It's been a long journey but these kiwifruit growers have seen tougher times.

Te Kani says, “If I go back a couple years and PSA and we were nearly completely decimated and now we've come out of that.”

They're now carrying a lighter load and becoming big players in the kiwifruit industry.

However, Pita Tipene's big focus is learning more about the marketplace in Tokyo.

He says, “The overseas market is a new experience for those like myself.  Our ancestors travelled to the four corners of the world to trade goods so it's fitting that I come here and see what the people here have to offer.”

Tauranga Moana iwi have been leading the way to the doors of the Asia market.

Pouroto Ngaropo says, “That's an example of the impact Māoridom has had on the kiwifruit industry.  We see the land as more than something to grow kiwifruit.  The land has its own power and essence.”

There could be a bit of competitive spirit amongst Māori in selling their goods off to the masses here.

Pita Tipene says, “Our farm is called Te Ahuareka.  So I know that Northland kiwifruit is sweeter than any other.”

Neil Te Kani says, “We probably grow some of the best Kiwifruit in the industry.”

This week, Māori will get their chance to show what they've got on offer.