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Wakatu Harvest shows Maori land potential
Photo: Wakatu Incorporation.

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The chair of one of the largest Māori food businesses says their experience through the COVID-19 crisis shows the potential of Māori landowners to contribute to job creation and economic recovery.

Paul Morgan says Wakatu Incorporation had to work with reduced numbers and social distancing on its harvesting, processing and manufacturing operations at the top of the South Island.

Its horticulture team was still able to pick 26 million pieces of fruit by hand.

His board is committed to keeping all its staff on, which includes more than 500 direct employees, with many others employed on a contract or seasonal basis, and he says other Māori asset manages could be in a similar position with some government help.

"We have a lot of potential Māori organisations and Māori landowners, hapū, iwi, to increase the job potential. Our main restriction is being able to get capital to put into the land, develop the land," Mr Morgan says.

He says there needs to be a partnership with government because many of the challenges require national coordination to fix.

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