Taranaki iwi-owned business' superfood smoothie drops launched nationwide

By Jessica Tyson

Shoppers across the motu are now able to enjoy one of New Zealand's most innovative new products, Kaitahi As One, whose award-winning range is launching into all New World stores this week.  

The South Taranaki iwi-owned enterprise beat 217 other entrants, coming away with the FoodStarter Small Suppliers award last year. It offers a range of frozen smoothie drops, packed full of traditional Māori ingredients. Buyers just add liquid and shake the drink before consuming it.

Kaitahi spokesperson Arohaina Owen, of Ngā Rauru, says the team came up with the idea through different wānanga across the rohe.

“It was about how do we create a business that is sustainable, that’s going to provide us with the ability to use our kai, and also ensure that we've got intergenerational wealth, not just financially, but in terms of education matauranga and looking after our babies.”

Kaitahi offers three different flavours of smoothie drops including Super Green Zinc, Triple Berry Project and Kiwi C Boost with traditional ingredients such as kumara and kawakawa.

“The uniqueness about it is we’re the only ones on the market doing it,” says Owen.

Kaitahi offers three different flavours of smoothie drops. Source: File

Many of the ingredients are planted at the Kii Tahi Nursery Site in Patea next to Te Wai o Turi Marae. The nursery employs Māori kaimahi from the rohe, including staff Jahn Graham, Lucretia Pokai and Shiran Maruera-Te Awhe.

Graham says what he loves about his job most is working on his own marae alongside his whānau.

“I like to plant native plants because I do it as a passion. It reminds me of my grandmother to tell you the truth,” says Graham.

Pokai says, “Working for a Māori organisation that produces native plants that gets supplied all over the country - it’s an awesome feat really.”

Owen says providing employment opportunities for her iwi is a major benefit of her successful business.

“Knowing that we are really here living and breathing what we’re committing to and that’s our people.”

Owen says Kaitahi plans to go global one day but only if they ensure they will be looking after Māori species.

“You think about kawakawa for example. It’s very common and everyone's vibing with it but you look at it being exported and what is actually being exported right and into what countries. So there’s a lot of things that we’ve got to consider from a commercial perspective, an ao Māori perspective and a regulation perspective before we make that decision.”