“Kei te whenua te waiu mo nga whakatipuranga kei te whai ake”
“The land will provide sustenance for future generations”
For the late Dr Apirana Mahuika, this whakatauaki aptly sums up the vision he had around creating a strong economic base for Ngati Porou. Dr Mahuika, the former chairman of Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou, passed away at the beginning of last month. He was a passionate advocate and supporter of everything within the Ngati Porou domain — the people, the land, the culture. These were only just some of the kaupapa he held close to his heart and worked tirelessly to uphold and maintain.
However, among the immense legacy he leaves behind is his mahi supporting the growth of Ngati Porou’s commercial enterprises. This was not just confined to the large-scale tribal farming, forestry and fishery assets, but also included creating economic opportunities for
whanau and hapu to develop their own whenua. The manuka honey industry was one of the enterprises where Dr Mahuika saw immense possibilities for Ngati Porou whanau. He also held a firm belief that whanau based co-operatives, similar to Ngata’s dairying schemes and the Ngati Porou Whanui Forests model, would help provide local solutions to Ngati Porou’s economic issues.
In an article about the establishment of a local manuka honey project he wrote about the benefits of whanau landholders coming together to support each other. “Establishing kinship business relationships will not be easy. However, if we are able to illustrate how interrelationships between whanau enterprise can work, then there is room for optimism.”
Collaboration and the formation of key relationships were central concepts of Dr Mahuika’s philosophy towards business opportunities for Ngati Porou. He cultivated valuable relationships on behalf of the iwi with Crown enterprises such
as NZ Trade and Enterprise, Callaghan Innovation and the Ministry for Primary Industries.
These relationships led to investments into Ngati Porou land-based aquaculture and miere (honey) research initiatives, and support for Ngati Porou industries to add value to as well as market and export their products. The establishment of a Porourangi Science and Innovation Centre was another vision Dr Mahuika worked tirelessly to achieve. He saw the centre as a collaborative relationship between the Ngati Porou community and the New Zealand scientific and business communities.It would foster scientific literacy and awareness within the region, he believed,and support young people to become future scientists, entrepreneurs and innovators.
Although Dr Mahuika’s original vision for a strong economic base for Ngati Porou is still in progress, throughout his life time he tilled the soil for others to plant the seed, so that one day future generations of Ngati Porou can reap the benefits of the harvest.