The Hineora Orchard / Te Kaha 15B Ahu Whenua Trust 


Te Kaha 15B is a Māori freehold land block located in the Eastern Bay of Plenty township of Te Kaha, 65km east of Ōpōtiki. The whenua falls within the tribal rohe of Te Whānau-a-Apanui, and more specifically, is associated with Te Whānau a Te Ehutu hapū.

The Hineora Orchard / Te Kaha 15B Ahu Whenua Trust 

The land comprises an area of 11.5 hectares, on which the Trust run a kiwifruit joint venture operation, a commercial pack-house facility housing the local kiwifruit spray company (in which the Trust holds shares), and a four bedroom home for accommodation at the block.

Prior to the Trust's creation in 1970, the land was largely occupied by different whānau who farmed the block maintaining a subsistence living growing a range of fruit and vegetables for the local community. Later a citrus orchard was established, however, given the small land area, this also failed to provide a sustainable economic return for its owners.

By 1998 the Trustees recognised that they were asset rich but lacked sufficient capital to develop their land. Fortunately, at the same time, a group of Eastern Bay of Plenty orchardists were seeking opportunities for development of the (then) new Gold variety of kiwifruit and were prepared to enter into 50/50 joint ventures with Trusts, effectively providing capital investment to the value of the land contributed for development by landowners.

The Hineora Orchard operation began in 1999 and was the last of six blocks to join the innovative joint venture development with decisions made, and profits shared, on a 50/50 basis with investors for a period of 20 years. Originally intended to end in 2021, the joint venture has managed the current orchard operation through the highs of the returns from the original Gold variety, to the lows of the PSA vine disease which devastated large parts of the kiwifruit industry. The land, and its orchard operation, is now due to be returned to 100% ownership by the trust in 2023.

As a result of this 20 year journey, the Trustees, who have each served over 15 years on the Trust, now jointly manage an 8.13 hectare orchard operation of G3 SunGold kiwifruit, producing just over 133,000 trays annually. They work closely with their contracted Orchard Manager, and local cool-storage company OPAC. Along with the other five joint venture blocks, they have formed a subsidiary spray company, Te Kaha Gold Sprayers who employ locals to work on OPAC orchards in the area. Significant investment from the six blocks has enabled the company to extend its operations across the Te Kaha and Omaio areas, and they now employ over 20 staff, many of whom are whānau.

The Trust was also influential in the establishment of Te Whānau-a-Apanui Fruitgrowers Incorporated – a charitable community education outreach group, responsible for upskilling 60 local workers to level 4 qualifications in Horticulture as well as supporting locals to build to Diploma level courses.

Whilst the Trust does not have any historic sites on its land, it continues to have a strong commitment to sustainability and offers annual kaumatua grants to shareholders as well as tangi, health, education, sporting, culture and travel grants.

Te Kaha 15B is another example of Māori having the vision, and courage, to embrace a new model of working, taking hold of their destiny and developing their land to its potential for future generations.

Hineora Orchard Te Kaha 15B Key Contact: Norman Carter, 027 280 9452, nac13@xtra.co.nz

Media can contact Peter Burke: 021 224 2183 / peterb@actrix.co.nz.

Photographs are free for use in relation to the competition. Visit www.bit.ly/ahuwhenuatrophy or contact John Cowpland, Alphapix: 027 253 3464 / info@alphapix.co.nz.

Our thanks to our valued Ahuwhenua Trophy sponsors: Te Puni Kōkiri and the Ministry for Primary Industries; Horticulture New Zealand, Te Tumu Paeroa, Bank of New Zealand and Plant & Food Research; Ballance Agri-Nutrients, Massey University, PGG Wrightson, FMG, Zespri, BDO and New Zealand Fruit Growers; Blue Wing Honda, AgFirst and Tohu Wine.

A big thanks also to sponsors of the Ahuwhenua Young Māori Grower Award: Te Puni Kōkiri, Primary ITO, Te Tumu Paeroa and Horticulture New Zealand.