Wakatū Inc works on producing indigenous crops

By Bronson Perich
Wena Harawira speaks with Kerensa Johnston 

COVID-19 hasn’t stopped the Wakatū Incorporation at the top of Te Wai Pounamu. Wakatū owns vineyards, orchards, marine farms and property.

This includes well-known brands like Tohu Wines and kono. While their business has carried on through the lockdown, they have also turned their attention to growing indigenous crops.

The hope is to teach new planting techniques to whānau to boost their capability around food. Kerensa Johnston, CEO of Wakatū explained that they sent a research team to Peru to learn more.

“We did some work with an indigenous community there. A hapū that’s about the same size as us about 6000 people in their community.

“They’re much further ahead than us in terms of looking at, in their case potatoes. So over 1000 different varieties of potatoes, their taonga that they have been farming for thousands of years.”

The research delegation looked at the models employed by the  Peruvians to manage their taonga and brought these insights back home.

CEO Johnston recalls that tobacco and hops were grown by their tīpuna in Motueka and they are now deciding what crops they will grow on their whenua.