News from home / Business
Written by: Hikurangi Enterprises
25 Nov 2016

The post-settlement environment is proving a fertile ground for communities in Ngati Porou to progress local development opportunities.

Last year hapu members around the Waiapu catchment started meeting to discuss how to create jobs and support economic development in the rohe between Waipiro and Rangitukia.


Hikurangi Takiwa Trust, a hapū collective for the six pa of Te Aitanga-a-Mate, Te Whānau-a-Rākairoa, Te Aowera, Te Whānau-a-Hinekēhu, Te Awemapara, commissioned an Economic Develop­ment Plan to help identify opportunities and plan action to raise the economic wellbeing of the Takiwa.

The Trustees of Hikurangi Takiwa Trust agreed that it made sense for the plan to include people and places in the wider district and not be restricted just to the Trust’s hapū. The final plan (avail­able at in­volved business owners, landowners and local residents between Waipiro Bay and Rangitukia.

To progress the plan Hikurangi Takiwa Trust supported hapu members to form a charitable company, Hikurangi Enterprises Ltd, with five local directors: Panapa Ehau, Mateawa Keelan, Bella Paenga, Liz Ngarimu and Natasha Koia. The company is owned by Hikurangi Huataukina Trust, a new charitable trust focused on job creation and economic development in the communities be­tween Waipiro Bay and Rangitukia.

“The company earns money for the trust and it will do that while creating real jobs,” says Panapa who is both a di­rector on the company and Chairperson of the trust.

“The trust can do the charitable stuff that helps whanau who want to create opportunities here for themselves and others. Some people call it this flash new name of ‘social enterprise’, but it’s really just what Ta Apirana Ngata was doing 100 years ago with the cooperatives and joint ventures started by our tupuna in the Waiapu Valley.”


While the Coast has been a solid pro­ducer of raw materials for other people to process and add value to, there are many ways to increase returns for land­owners and create decent jobs that help rather than harm the environment.

Last century’s large scale farming led to the destruction of thousands of hec­tares of native bush. Not only did the bush clearance result in massive loss of biodiversity but also created a huge ero­sion problem. Today about a quarter of the land around Ruatoria is in native bush, a quarter in farmland, a quarter in forestry and a quarter in regenerating mānuka and kānuka.

Forestry has helped reduce the level of sedimentation flowing into streams and rivers on the Coast. But every harvest cycle results in worse erosion until more trees can be grown, and few steady jobs come from forestry. Cropping of maize and corn often is popular on flat land and dry-stock farming continues. 20 years ago a large number of land blocks in the Waiapu area were interested in growing organic produce, today only one still has organic certification while the premiums on organic produce have continued to increase.


The trust is supporting local landowners to make informed decisions by hosting a series of events on the Coast with visit­ing and local experts to share informa­tion on recent developments in science, technology and market opportunities.

In November the trust helped organise a conference on mānuka and kānuka with 20 scientists presenting in Ruatoria and Te Araroa to identify new research with 120 local landowners. They also facili­tated the opportunity for an agri-tech in­vestment company to meet with locals to discuss new ideas and local innovations, and organised a series of carbon farming workshops which were hosted in three communities on the Coast. The Trust have also been in contact with a philan­thropic funder interested in supporting community-led economic development, who was shown how their money could make a difference on the Coast.

“Native plants are good for the cli­mate, good for biodiversity and good for erosion control,” says Panapa. “We hope the carbon farming workshops have shown landowners the environmental benefits of allowing our whenua to re­vert to natives and ways to make that process financially beneficial too.”

“The science is clear, planting millions more trees is the best plan to capture greenhouse gases. If New Zealand wants to keep farming sheep, beef and dairy then retiring land to natives is a much more sustainable option.


Panapa says plans for a tissue culture lab and nursery Hikurangi Enterprises is working on with landowners in the area will compliment plans for Ruatoria to become a centre for innovation in bioac­tive plant extracts as well as soil conser­vation and water remediation.

Hikurangi Enterprises recently se­cured their license from the government to grow a trial crop of hemp for seed oil and fibre this summer, and is looking at other natural fibres for construction and polymer products. The group is also leading a regional energy study for re­mote rural communities, including the opportunity to establish a solar electric­ity producer-consumer cooperative.

“We’re supporting a cooperative model where the homeowners own the company that installs and owns all the PV systems” says Panapa.

With the honey industry still domi­nated by outside companies Hikurangi Enterprises are also supporting land­owners with information on what they should look at in contracts allowing hives to be placed on their land.

“With over 20,000 hives on the Coast during summer, we could have at least 100 resident beekeepers instead of let­ting the outsiders come in,” says Panapa. “So we’re helping training courses get established that will work for our ranga­tahi on the Coast and encouraging land­owners to look at joining Ngati Porou Miere Limited Partnership.”


Hikurangi Enterprises has quickly de­veloped partnerships with public and private research institutions around the country. “It’s been really exciting to find so many experts who can help us develop new knowledge and products,” says Manu Caddie who works as Business Development Manager for Hikurangi Enterprises.

“We’ve been able to fund new research that we can then use in partnership with other companies to create new intellec­tual property for novel products.”

The company is supporting post-grad­uate science students with scholarships to progress research in bioactive extracts from kānuka at Victoria University and a native fungi at the University of Auck­land. Products being developed by Hi­kurangi Enterprises in Ruatoria have al­ready attracted the attention of a global consumer goods company and another business with 500,000 distributors in China.

“There are heaps of opportunities for creating decent, well paid work on the Coast,” says Manu. “But it requires good business structures, strong links to mar­kets and a local workforce keen to do the mahi.”


Earlier in the year Hikurangi Huataukina Trust undertook one of the largest surveys of whānau living away from the East Coast to cast light on what it would take to attract some of the 70,000+ Ngāti Porou to move back to their tribal lands.

500 Natis responded to an online sur­vey* which was designed and adminis­tered by Hikurangi Huataukina Trust and promoted through the Ngati Porou Proud Facebook group run by Jackie Taukamo-Grace.

“The Trust is keen to encourage whānau to relocate back to the Coast so wanted to see what the barriers were and what would be the main motivations for them choosing to return, says Hikurangi Huataukina Trustee Panapa Ehau.

“We are really pleased with the results, it is incredibly rich information that can help those of us living at home under­stand why such a large proportion of our relations still choose to live away from the Coast and what it would take for them to return.”

“What is most exciting is that a good proportion of the whānau are already well advanced in plans to relocate back to their turangawaewae between Kaiti and Potaka.”

“Whānau bringing skills and resources can help increase opportunities for oth­ers – we don’t expect most whānau will relocate but if we know what the level of interest is then we can plan to accommo­date those who are interested and sup­port their aspirations where possible.”


500 people responded to the online survey. Among those who took part, three quarters of the respondents were from New Zealand, nearly a quarter were from Australia and 10 participants were from other places in the world including the USA, UK, Thailand, China, Somalia, Hong Kong and The Philippines. In terms of the ages of those responding, the largest proportion (30%) were in the 36-45 year age group, followed by those aged 46-55 years, only 3% were aged under 25 and 7% over 65 years. One 79 year old still has aspirations of moving back into their family home on the Coast.


One quarter of the respondents were very keen or already making plans to re­locate back to the East Coast. Two thirds were interested but not right now and only two percent said they would never want to relocate back to the region.


Jobs were the most important factor in considerations about relocating, fol­lowed by existing commitments keeping families staying where they are at pres­ent. Most respondents saw significant opportunities for children on the Coast rather than the geographic isolation and fewer services being a limitation, like­wise the availability of suitable housing was a real concern for only about a quar­ter of participants.


The main reason participants gave for wanting to relocate home were around a desire to live on their whānau/hapū whenua, live a more simple, sustaina­ble lifestyle and contribute to the life of their marae/hapū in practical ways on a day to day basis. Other important con­siderations were the opportunities for children to grow up better connected to their whānau, marae and hapū, and to be immersed in Te Reo me ona Tikanga o Ngāti Porou. One participant put it sim­ply: “To live there, to grow old there, and to be buried there.”


Four main barriers to relocating were identified: economic and employment issues was the most significant concern by a long way – this included a lack of capital to build or fix up an old home on family land, access to services, par­ticularly educational opportunities, for whānau members was the next largest set of barriers followed by infrastructure issues (transport, internet and housing) and cultural issues were the other signifi­cant set of concerns which included a fear of cultural obligations, a lack of Te Reo, disconnection with tikanga and compli­cations around access to family lands.


Hikurangi Huataukina Trust made three key recommendations based on the sur­vey findings for those living on the Coast:

Whanaungatanga: Encourage positive connections.

Many whānau who have lived away for more than a generation don’t feel con­fident engaging with their relations at home. Those living on the Coast need to make more commitment to connecting in positive ways with those living away, especially creating spaces and opportu­nities to bring whānau home for positive experiences.

Maramatanga: share accurate information.

Whānau interested in moving home may not appreciate how accessible and reliable the internet is now for most of the Coast, how amazing most of the schools are and how the roads aren’t so bad once you get used to them. An awareness and education campaign fo­cused on the infrastructure and services like schools and health providers could be useful. That doesn’t mean ignoring the challenges but sharing the reality might help dispel some myths.

Whairawa: Support enterprise development.

Jobs is a priority and there could be more encouragement to think about work that whānau can do from the Coast and more resources dedicated to building a sup­portive environment for entrepreneurs, start-ups and remote workers. Check out Iti Te Kōpara, an economic development plan developed by Hikurangi Takiwa Trust that is the basis for Hikurangi Huataukina Trust and Hikurangi Enter­prises Ltd. There are a number of other hapū and iwi initiatives working hard to create jobs and an environment that sup­ports new businesses and tele-commut­ers to base themselves on the Coast.

(N.B. The survey of 500 respondents was conducted between 7 April and 24 September has a margin of error of plus or minus five per cent at 90 per cent confidence level).

  • To view the full survey results go to: interested-inrelocating-to-east-coast/