Ko te whenua te waiu mo nga uri whakatipu (The land will provide sustenance for future generations)
For the late Dr Apirana Mahuika, this whakatauaki aptly sums up his vision for the creation of a strong economic base for Ngati Porou.
Amongst the immense legacy he leaves behind is his mahi in championing the realisation of this vision. Both at a macro level – the establishment of our large-scale tribal farming, forestry and fisheries assets, and at a micro level – supporting whanau and hapu to develop their own whenua and resources.
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 Forests model, would help provide local solutions to our economic issues. Collaboration and the formation of key relationships was another component which underpinned Dr Mahuika’s philosophy in regards to creating business opportunities for Ngati Porou.
The stories within the following section, “Growing Ngati Porou”, illustrates this philosophy. “Take the honey,not the money” is about the formation of the Ngati Porou Miere Collective, and its aspiration to position Ngati Porou as a major player in the Manuka honey industry. The success of this new entity will depend heavily on building collaborative relationships with the whanau based trusts and incorporations who join the Collective.
“Sisters are doing it for themselves” is about Ngati Porou women and their participation in workshops to help develop their entrepreneurial skills. The workshops came about as the result of a collaboration between Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou and Maori Womens Development Inc. Empowering whanau through economic and financial independence lies at the heart of this initiative.
In order for both the Ngati Porou Miere Collective and the Ngati Porou women entrepreneurs to flourish they will need our support. As any good gardener knows, a young seedling needs a nourishing and healthy environment in which to grow. Will we choose to chop our tall poppies down, or will we nurture them in the right conditions where they can blossom?
Throughout his lifetime Dr Mahuika worked tirelessly to achieve his vision of a strong Ngati Porou economic base. He tilled the soil and planted the seeds – it is now up to us to nuture those seeds so that one day future generations of Ngati Porou can reap the harvest.