Making use of prime kumara land

An enterprise raising kumara seedlings on land at Whatatutu is under way to make use of under-used land and help create jobs for their community. Andrew Ashton talks to the family who are making it happen.

An enterprise raising kumara seedlings on land at Whatatutu is under way to make use of under-used land and help create jobs for their community. Andrew Ashton talks to the family who are making it happen.

FROM SMALL SEEDLINGS: Audrey Tamanui-Nunn (right) and her grand-children Te Marangai Lamont Milner and Whakaarahia Milner-Broad check up on their family's kumara plants. Picture supplied

THREE Whatatutu sisters and their whanau are creating a new social enterprise that will not only make use of under-used land by selling kumara seeds commercially but could also pave the way for a whole new industry for the region’s far-flung towns.

As part of the Akina Foundation’s Thrive Tairawhiti programme, five members of a Whatatutu family have created a new company called Kokamo Seedlings, with the aim of boosting rural employment and creating prosperity and reinvigorating what is at present just a cottage industry.

Project manager Audrey Tamanui-Nunn said the aim of the business would be to provide kumara seedlings to growers by building on her own family’s experience.

“My sister is the grower, she’s the one with the green fingers. My role is more around setting the business up and contacting potential clients. The other sister will be looking after our funding commitments. Hopefully we will be using the wider whanau too, to provide business support.

“We want to grow our own seedlings, so that’s what we want to do this year and then we can select seedlings for our future seedling enterprise. We are probably looking at being about a year away from being on the market, which gives us good time to see what’s out there.”

An application for funding had been made and it was thought about $5500 to $6000 of seed funding would be required to kick off the enterprise to establish raised growing beds on papakainga land.

“Of course the whanau need to put in ourselves, going dollar for dollar with someone else.”

Mrs Tamanui-Nunn said establishing a business around kumara was “a no brainer”.

“This area is a prime area for kumara, dating back to whanau who have done it for ages. So we know it grows well here. Our issue is that we are just too far out for a commercial entity to want to use our land.

“What we’re hoping to do is provide local gardeners who might be working and are really struggling for time.

“So by not having to grow their own seedlings, they can just grab some, put them in the garden. We also want to supply on a commercial basis as well, for other marae and kura.”

It was also intended that schools would be able to learn from the business, but the main aim was to expand employment.

“At the end of the day our goal is to provide employment, or provide the model that other whanau can use.”

The eventual goal would be to move the business to Mangatu Marae permanently.

“That’s the longer-term dream.”

Being a part of the Thrive programme had been a “fantastic journey”.

“For the participants at the beginning, it was just like-minded people coming together to share ideas.

“It’s great having an idea but it is also about making those things achievable.

Social enterprises are organisations effecting positive social and environmental change through trade.

Thrive Tairawhiti is delivered via a partnership between Akina Foundation and Eastland Community Trust, supported by New Zealand Post and Kiwibank.

THREE Whatatutu sisters and their whanau are creating a new social enterprise that will not only make use of under-used land by selling kumara seeds commercially but could also pave the way for a whole new industry for the region’s far-flung towns.

As part of the Akina Foundation’s Thrive Tairawhiti programme, five members of a Whatatutu family have created a new company called Kokamo Seedlings, with the aim of boosting rural employment and creating prosperity and reinvigorating what is at present just a cottage industry.

Project manager Audrey Tamanui-Nunn said the aim of the business would be to provide kumara seedlings to growers by building on her own family’s experience.

“My sister is the grower, she’s the one with the green fingers. My role is more around setting the business up and contacting potential clients. The other sister will be looking after our funding commitments. Hopefully we will be using the wider whanau too, to provide business support.

“We want to grow our own seedlings, so that’s what we want to do this year and then we can select seedlings for our future seedling enterprise. We are probably looking at being about a year away from being on the market, which gives us good time to see what’s out there.”

An application for funding had been made and it was thought about $5500 to $6000 of seed funding would be required to kick off the enterprise to establish raised growing beds on papakainga land.

“Of course the whanau need to put in ourselves, going dollar for dollar with someone else.”

Mrs Tamanui-Nunn said establishing a business around kumara was “a no brainer”.

“This area is a prime area for kumara, dating back to whanau who have done it for ages. So we know it grows well here. Our issue is that we are just too far out for a commercial entity to want to use our land.

“What we’re hoping to do is provide local gardeners who might be working and are really struggling for time.

“So by not having to grow their own seedlings, they can just grab some, put them in the garden. We also want to supply on a commercial basis as well, for other marae and kura.”

It was also intended that schools would be able to learn from the business, but the main aim was to expand employment.

“At the end of the day our goal is to provide employment, or provide the model that other whanau can use.”

The eventual goal would be to move the business to Mangatu Marae permanently.

“That’s the longer-term dream.”

Being a part of the Thrive programme had been a “fantastic journey”.

“For the participants at the beginning, it was just like-minded people coming together to share ideas.

“It’s great having an idea but it is also about making those things achievable.

Social enterprises are organisations effecting positive social and environmental change through trade.

Thrive Tairawhiti is delivered via a partnership between Akina Foundation and Eastland Community Trust, supported by New Zealand Post and Kiwibank.

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