Italian kiwifruit packhouses' experience in dealing with COVID-19 has helped New Zealand to fast-track innovation in its own packhouses to deal with stringent new safety regulations.
She says it not only provides good returns to Māori Trusts and Incorporations, but also provides career pathways for Māori people and Whanau.
Mahuta quotes a recent statistic suggesting a 300% growth in Māori horticulture in the past 14 years, with more growth predicted. She says 3800 Māori are employment in the horticulture sector and make up 17% of the total sector.
“The total growth output of Māori farms is $220m with more room to improve capacity and capability in the sector. In particular it offers excellent opportunities for our whanau in the manual trades and labour who are seeking a better life. We also seen a trend of younger people wanting to come and live and work on their own whenua.”
Mahuta says her role is to ensure that Māori are included in the economic opportunities which create sustainable social outcomes and advance our people. She says the Ahuwhenua Awards are one of the tools which help Māori people to gain the confidence to showcase their achievements.
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says the Ahuwhenua Trophy competition recognised the significant contribution of the Māori agriculture sector.
He says this year’s finalists are part of an emerging group of people who making a positive impact on a multimillion-dollar industry and are among some of the best across the country.