An ambitious horticulture project is underway to lift the productivity of Māori-owned land in northern Hawke’s Bay, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said today.
“The Government is investing $440,000 to help members of the Wairoa Horticultural Hub build on the potential of their whenua and to create jobs,” Mr O’Connor said.
“The hub is made up of representatives from more than 20 blocks of land covering 460 hectares, with the majority being Māori-owned.
“Our investment is enabling landowners to get on-the-ground support to identify suitable parcels of land to be sustainably developed into horticulture.
“It’s part of a long-term vision to harness the full benefits of the Wairoa district’s soils, water and climate. It has the capacity to become a premier horticulture region.”
The mahi is part of the Government’s Fit for a Better World roadmap, which aims for food and fibre sector exports to earn an extra $44 billion over 10 years.
“Fit for a Better World is about sustainability, inclusivity and creating greater value. The roadmap is designed to strengthen the foundations of our trade-led recovery from COVID-19.”
A key driver for the Wairoa project is to convert enough land to justify the establishment of post-harvest cool store and processing facilities.
“This will not only provide much-needed employment opportunities, but also increase social and economic outcomes for the whole Wairoa district.”
“The wider project has been supported by Government investment of $875,000 through a Provincial Growth Fund grant and $1.4 million loan.
“That funding has been crucial to establishing the region’s potential to produce high value apple varieties. The funding has helped prepare the site, establish infrastructure, and plant apple trees on the 18 hectare site.
“Poles have been erected to help train tree branches and to attach irrigation lines and hail netting.
“It’s anticipated the trees will start producing fruit within three years and reach full production in five to seven years,” the Minister said.
The Wairoa Horticultural Hub was formed with the support of the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) Māori Agribusiness Extension (MABx) programme.
“MPI’s Māori Agribusiness team has partnered with 26 Māori agribusiness clusters across the motu since 2019, helping Māori landowners access support and expertise,” Mr O’Connor said.