One million trees, $1Billion for the Māori economy

One million trees, $1Billion for the Māori economy

Mataatua Whenua Cooperative is an Opotiki-based enterprise founded on Maori protocols (tikanga) and co-operative principles. It plans to use the oil from macadamia & manuka to produce a range of eco-friendly skin care & therapeutic products.

It’s an ambitious and worthy goal: to plant 1,000,000 macadamia trees over the next ten years to support the building a new one-billion-dollar-a-year primary sector industry co-operative that will create jobs and stimulate the Maori economy in rural areas.

The co-operative model is “a business format that accords with kaitiakitanga and Tikanga Maori”, according to the community-based, economic enterprise.

As “part of its socio-economic WOW (’whanau on the whenua’, translated as ‘family on the land’) programme”, the co-operative allows Maori landowners to “move into a position of equitably contracted farm gate payments for product supply, supported by profit-sharing from a co-op that the grower-producer landowners own.”

An earlier (March) statement said the co-op’s revenue share structure is based on “a contracted Annual Farm Gate Price for both manuka from its Kohumaru operations up-north and the macadamia NIS (Nut-in-Shell). The manuka oil is extracted through a distillation process while the NIS is cold pressed to release the oil. Both oils will be used in the manufacture of a proprietary skin care and therapeutic products range to be marketed under the “177° EAST brand. The enhanced profit flowing from this integrated value-adding process will be distributed back to the co-op’s whanau membership base over and above the contracted annual farm gate income.”

Mataatua Macadamia Ltd

Macadamia seedling program, orchard support services and oil production from 1,000,000 trees planted “Out-East”.

Kohumaru Taonga Ltd

Manuka bush-cutting and oil extraction management from thousands of acres owned and leased whenua “Up-North”

HoneyHut Villages Ltd

Permanent revenue sharing “HoneyHut” villages to both supplement WOW income and enhance bio-security.

Rebuilding economically marginalised communities is a key driver for the Mataatua Cooperative.

“The large-scale industry consolidations across the primary sector in Aotearoa/NZ over the past 50 years have debased the economy of many farming-centric rural communities across the nation. “From the smallholder through to the larger, multi-ownership land blocks. . . jobs that create income opportunities for elder, retiring Maori returning home to their whenua (land) to enjoy their golden years.” SEE

“Towns like Opotiki and its predominantly Maori population that once enjoyed steady family incomes from good jobs in the community that supported the local economy were marginalized by local factory closures and the subsequent concentration of a hugely disproportionate of local economic wealth into the hands of a privileged few operating within a much reduced, capital intensive range of primary sector activity that saw foreign labour replace local labour”.

“Our expanding co-op membership base in manuka, macadamia and honey production also seeks to utilize unused Maori treaty assets to enhance the economic return back to the local community in the form of job and income creation opportunities. This includes providing the affordable housing which is needed under the WOW program for retiring Maori who come home to their whenua and available to live and work, helping to manage the whanau’s agri-biz”.

Utilizing its Grower-Producer, Transacting-Member Shareholder land resources, interfaced within a co-operative operational structure, these middle-class rural Maori will help address this ever-increasing societal issue for Maori. The rebuilding of their rural communities through a middle-class economic revival driven by their mana whenua and its resource taonga.

Mataatua’s efforts are focused ‘Out East’ and ‘Up North’ – as its latest media release points out.

In its application to join Cooperative Business NZ, Mataatua said it was seeking “peer-to-peer mentoring support and guidance in building a successful east coast co-operative to follow in the footsteps of the legendary Sir Apirana Ngata” who founded the 1st Maori landowner Co-Op.


The Co-Op is named after the legendary Mataatua waka that landed “Out East” circa 800 years ago before going “Up North” where Puhi established the Ngāpuhi tribe. (Image above – the mural in Mataatua House in Opotiki, our Maori micro-agri-biz

As part of its socio-economic “WOW” (“Whanau on the Whenua”) program kaupapa, the Mataatua Whenua Cooperative Ltd is pleased to announce that it has entered into its first JV “Up-North” with well-known landowner and businessman, Eric Lloyd in a deal that sees the formation of a WOW launch capital deployment base of $4.88M. With his tipuna tracing their whakapapa back to the early migrations to the far north on waka’s such as the eastern BOP’s legendary Mataatua waka, Eric heads up the Kohumaru Manuka Station operations and the planned Kohumaru Farm oil distillation and macadamia nursery hub initiative developed to support the launch of the social-impact focused WOW program “Up-North” in tandem with the WOW program developed for “Out-East” to support the 1M macadamia trees project.

JV-STRUCTURED commercial relationships are the key to the Co-Ops growth strategy for its WOW programme. JV’s such as the one with Dawn Biddle and her whanau on Lot 388C-1 Parish of Waiotahe where her 300+ 14 year old macadamia trees are providing the Co-Op with some of the 1M seedstock units that are needed for the nursery operations Out-East, (Whanarua Bay) and Up-North, (Mangonui) These JV’s are structured as being 70% owned and controlled by the contracting whanau with the Co-Op taking up a 30% position within the JV entity and assuming both a long term management contract and produce supply agreement in order to support the ongoing quality assurance that is required to back up the products “Provenance you can trust” brand tag.

The Co-Ops Maori landowner liaison director is Jim Wikotu, a kaumatua and Rangatira of the Te Upokorehe Iwi/hapū collective “Out-East” who helped develop the 12 STEPS pathway in order to ensure a full and complete understanding of the Co-Ops entry process by landowning whanau. 12 Steps that help ensure that the principles of Tikanga become inculcated as part of the operational ethos of the Mataatua Whenua Cooperative Ltd.