19 Feb 2021

Miro - Bringing jobs home

From Country Life, 9:40 pm on 19 February 2021

At four o'clock every morning Ivy Habib's alarm wakes her and she gets ready to drive the 45 minutes to work at Te Teko in Bay of Plenty.

Ivy's a supervisor on a blueberry farm, built on her trust's land in partnership with Miro, a company set up to improve productivity on Māori-owned land and to create jobs for local people.

Ivy's daughter, grandsons, cousins and aunties also work on the orchard.

Miro has 30 shareholders, all Māori entities, trusts, iwi and hapū that want to use high-value horticulture to create career opportunities for their people.

It currently has 12 orchards in the North Island growing 50 hectares of blueberries in tunnel houses.

Ivy says she loves coming to work with her whānau.

"My trust has invested in it (Miro) so when the AGM came up, I came with the other trustees and I just asked out of the blue 'do you fellas have jobs for other people like the trustees,' and they go 'yes we actually want you to come. Bring your family'. So yeah, here we are."

Ivy's daughter Ngawaiata Habib is the best picker on the orchard. On a good day she can pick 70 kilograms of blueberries.

She starts work at 5.30am and, when it's not too hot, works until 3pm. She admits she's tired when she gets home but it's worth it.

"I love money, so you've got to get out there and work if you love money, eh?"

Miro chief executive Liz Te Amo says Miro's vision is to give people skills so they can drive the orchard businesses.

"Non Māori who come to us like Ryan, (the production manager) they know that part of their KPI or job is to grow a Māori replacement for themselves."

She says Miro will measure success by how much land it brings into high value horticulture and how many jobs it creates.

She says at the height of the blueberry season just finished of the 157 people employed on two Miro orchards, 93 percent were Māori.

"And those are jobs that wouldn't be there if Miro wasn't here, so to be able to bring that kind of employment, income into households, income into whānau in those very poor rural communities, that's what transformation looks like to us and being true to our kaupapa of employing our own."