National | Ahuwhenua

Fonterra "opens the gate" to its Māori farm owners

Dairy giant Fonterra has called its first-ever meeting with Māori farm owners in Auckland today to inform a new Māori strategy. The move aims to provide farmers with better access to Fonterra’s tools and systems.

Representing ‘Te Rua o Te Moko’, a Māori Farm based in Hāwera, Daisy Noble says, “We come in through the front door but I don't see a Māori presence here and this is a new building for us, so it's about putting those things there to show that you do have Māori shareholders, we are part of the co-op and it would be nice to see something like that.”

Fonterra Māori Strategy Manager Tiaki Hunia says, “It's important for me as we look to refresh our Māori strategy that it starts with feedback from Māori farmers themselves, we've got our farmers here we've got trustees here, we've got our directors from Māori incorporations, this is where it all begins.”

214 Māori-owned farms are partnered with Fonterra, many of them communally owned by thousands of beneficiaries.

Hunia explains, “The majority of them are owned by collectives, as opposed to the farmers themselves, their owned by trusts and owned by iwi, owned by whānau, and that's new for us trying to work out what's the best way to contact, what's the best way to stay in touch. We've got really good tools and systems, how do we make them more accessible.”

Daisy Noble says, “It pays us to know what the infrastructure is all about and that's what we've been looking at right across the board if you like.”

Tiaki Hunia explains that Māori farmers are much more than just producers, “We're not just farmers, we're stakeholders, we've got statutory rights as iwi, we'll have an increasing involvement in water as well as land, we've got a greater political representation so Māori have got a really strong strategic value.”

Noble says, “Anything that you market or look at branding that there are those protocols that happen with Māori.”

Tiaki Hunia aims to have the strategy completed by July and to grow relationships while building the capacity of the Māori farms.