Exploring the potential of hops, hemp, horticulture

The Poutama Trust, a Maori business development service, is working with a Maori land trust in Wairoa to untap the potential for food production.

Paroa Trust chairman Luis McDonnell said the organisation was working toward a hops trial.

The coastal strip of land between Whakaki, north of Wairoa, and Bayview near Napier had a unique climate that allowed crops to mature three weeks earlier than other areas in the district.

“So you can get early produce into market that’s not really being exploited,” Mr McDonnell said.

The use of land for sheep and cattle farming was becoming less profitable.

“I don’t think that Wairoa will ever not be a farming centre but I think what’s happening now, from our point of view, is we’re evaluating different land use options to get a high return on investment.

“That’s why we’re looking at things like hops, hemp and horticulture.”

Mr McDonnell believed this diversification would boost the economy and create more jobs too.

“It’s quite a depressed area. The average household income of our people is relatively low . . . and we need to get these initiatives going and keep the money circulating in the area.”

The Wairoa-Napier railway line was opened for use last month for the first time in six years.

Regional Development Minister Shane Jones’ $1 billion-a-year provincial growth fund is aimed at revitalising the economy of long forgotten rural centres.

Poutama Trust chief executive Richard Jones has been working with Maori land trusts in the area for the past four years to diversify the use of their land.

“In Wairoa we see the opportunity for a number of the Maori land trusts to collaborate, which can give them a bit of scale.

“And they can pull resources and help de-risk opportunities that they’re looking at.”

Mr Jones said there was a number of exciting ways Maori land could be used.

“Some might be suitable to apples and vegetables, some might be suitable for just raising sheep and cattle, and others might open into looking into other sorts of crops such as hops and even hemp.”

The Poutama Trust is also working alongside the Wairoa ICT Club, which helps young people learn about gaming, coding and online business under the guidance of Curve Technlology Ltd.

Curve Technology owner Andrew Hume says as more horticultural jobs become automated, the need for IT professionals in the area will grow.

“If we don’t have people here with those skills then we have to import people . . . which doesn’t help our economy.”

The Poutama Trust, a Maori business development service, is working with a Maori land trust in Wairoa to untap the potential for food production.

Paroa Trust chairman Luis McDonnell said the organisation was working toward a hops trial.

The coastal strip of land between Whakaki, north of Wairoa, and Bayview near Napier had a unique climate that allowed crops to mature three weeks earlier than other areas in the district.

“So you can get early produce into market that’s not really being exploited,” Mr McDonnell said.

The use of land for sheep and cattle farming was becoming less profitable.

“I don’t think that Wairoa will ever not be a farming centre but I think what’s happening now, from our point of view, is we’re evaluating different land use options to get a high return on investment.

“That’s why we’re looking at things like hops, hemp and horticulture.”

Mr McDonnell believed this diversification would boost the economy and create more jobs too.

“It’s quite a depressed area. The average household income of our people is relatively low . . . and we need to get these initiatives going and keep the money circulating in the area.”

The Wairoa-Napier railway line was opened for use last month for the first time in six years.

Regional Development Minister Shane Jones’ $1 billion-a-year provincial growth fund is aimed at revitalising the economy of long forgotten rural centres.

Poutama Trust chief executive Richard Jones has been working with Maori land trusts in the area for the past four years to diversify the use of their land.

“In Wairoa we see the opportunity for a number of the Maori land trusts to collaborate, which can give them a bit of scale.

“And they can pull resources and help de-risk opportunities that they’re looking at.”

Mr Jones said there was a number of exciting ways Maori land could be used.

“Some might be suitable to apples and vegetables, some might be suitable for just raising sheep and cattle, and others might open into looking into other sorts of crops such as hops and even hemp.”

The Poutama Trust is also working alongside the Wairoa ICT Club, which helps young people learn about gaming, coding and online business under the guidance of Curve Technlology Ltd.

Curve Technology owner Andrew Hume says as more horticultural jobs become automated, the need for IT professionals in the area will grow.

“If we don’t have people here with those skills then we have to import people . . . which doesn’t help our economy.”

Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.