Saturday April 29, 2017   Last updated 06:00AM
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Te Tumu Paeroa goes for gold with kiwifruit

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Te Tumu Paeroa the new Maori Trustee, has unveiled a $30 million project to establish 10 kiwifruit orchards on Maori land in the Bay of Plenty and Gisborne over the next 18 months.

Chief executive Jamie Tuuta says an extensive study of the land it manages identified more than 90 hectares of semi-productive and unproductive land suitable for conversion.

By 2030 the orchards could be producing more than $80,000 per hectare per year of gold and green kiwifruit.

After getting agreement from owners, Te Tumu Paeroa has formed a limited liability partnership with Quayside Holdings, the investment arm of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to drive the $30 million project on a well-proven build, operate and transfer model.

"The role of the LLP will be to manage the build and operational phases of each of the orchards. Once mature and once we and Quayside have achieved our returns, the kiwifruit orchard will be transferred to the owners," Mr Tuuta says.

During the 12 to 17 year development period the owners will be trained up so they can govern and manage the land.

Licences have been secured from Zespri to grow kiwifruit gold and preparatory work is going on to allow planting to start in winter 2018.

Te Tumu Paeroa and Quayside are keen for other investors with an interest in developing Maori land to join in.

"We see there being opportunities for iwi and hapu to invest in individual orchards as part of the programme and certainly the conversations we are having with owners, they are also keen to see local investment at an individual orchard level as well," Mr Tuuta says.

He says the programme will allow owners to reconnect with their whenua and achieve their long term aspirations for the land.

FULL INTERVIEW: JAMIE TUUTA

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