21 Apr 2021

Iwi-run food business says recent awards have helped create more jobs

1:41 pm on 21 April 2021

A Māori food business says it's going from strength to strength with its product being rolled out in stores, creating more jobs for iwi.

Kaitahi As One smoothies

Kaitahi As One smoothies. Photo: Supplied / Kaitahi As One

Kaitahi As One makes a frozen blend of indigenous ingredients including kūmara and kawakawa, which when shaken with liquid creates a smoothie.

Company working group lead Arohania Owen said two recent awards would help the business grow.

The company has been given a grant of $54,000 by The High Value Nutrition National Science Challenge to investigate the product's nutrient composition

"We already know our products have huge benefits but to be able to say so with scientific backing will be great for the business," Owen said

Kaitahi's point of difference of using indigenous ingredients had attracted a lot of interest, she said.

"From my understanding - and I may be wrong - but we were the first business to grow pūhā in a commercial sense, which has been really exciting for us, and kawakawa has been popular as well."

The Whanganui-based business is run on a social ecological entrepreneurship model with financial returns invested into the community.

Leoni Matoe and Pete Abraham check on the puha at the Kaitahi plant nursery in Patea.

Leoni Matoe and Pete Abraham at Kaitahi nursery in Patea. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

"There's so much Māori kai which isn't being used on our tables so we would love to be a part of bringing more of it onto the market," Owen said.

"Our dreams are all about diversification and filling the gap of Māori ingredients in the market, the thing we need to do is balance it appropriately because while we are one iwi, the kai belongs to all Māori."

Kaitahi also won the start-up category in the recent FoodStarter awards - meaning their product will be rolled out in New World supermarkets around the country as well as product development and manufacturing support.