Far North iwi Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Takoto has started planting its new 20-hectare avocado orchard in Kaitaia, using assets it received through its Treaty settlement.
The iwi has spent four years planning the Rākau Ora project alongside its partner, the Ministry for Primary Industries, and other businesses in the horticulture sector.
Ngāi Takoto chief executive Rangitane Marsden said the orchard would create new employment opportunities and be of huge commercial value for his people.
"The orchard is a means to achieve our aspiration of using our Treaty settlement assets to build a strong economic base for our people," he said.
"It will enable greater productive use of the iwi's land and create new employment opportunities. This is a platform to begin the realisation of our vision, 'if we live as we ought, we shall know things as they are, and if we see things they are, we shall live as we ought'. It's a tribute to our kaumātua and kuia who paved the way to settlement."
Mr Marsden said the iwi would look to expand the orchard in the coming years.
"Twenty hectares is just the start," he said.
"We plan to expand this current platform with an additional 40 hectares over the next two years, and with a total potential to extend the orchard to 200 hectares over a planned 10 years."
The Ministry of Primary Industry's Māori agribusiness director, Andrew McConnell, said the orchard would not only benefit the people of Ngāi Takoto, but Northland as whole too.
"Rākau Ora is now set to achieve greater benefits for the Ngāi Takoto people and will contribute to Northland's GDP too," he said.
"We are delighted the iwi is entering this high-value food sector. It's an excellent example of promoting whānau development through whenua, as part of our strategy to grow our partnership with iwi and Māori landowners."