National | Business

Māori food and beverage delegation jets off to grow Southeast Asia business links

The delegation of nine Māori food and beverage leaders will visit Singapore and Thailand and includes a member from Miraka, one of New Zealand’s largest Māori export businesses. Source / Miraka

Emerging Māori food and beverage leaders are jetting off to explore new food frontiers in Southeast Asia over the next 10 days.

The group of nine entrepreneurs and business leaders will visit Singapore and Thailand from 18 to 28 May on a programme organised by the Asia New Zealand Foundation Te Whītau Tūhono, with support from Te Taumata a national body that advocates for Māori interests in trade.

Not only does the Southeast Asia region offer enormous opportunities to the Māori economy, but Māori food and beverage entrepreneurs have a lot to offer in return, with a focus on providing sustainable, healthy and traceable products.

"Māori have a long tradition of engaging in international trade, [and] as tribal seafarers established trade routes with Australia as early as the 1700s," Te Taumata chairperson Chris Karamea Insley (Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, Ngāti Porou) said Tuesday in a statement.

"Today, international trade accounts for one in four Māori jobs across the country, making it a significant sector for Māori-led businesses, communities and whānau."

The delegation of Māori entrepreneurs and business leaders includes:

  • Oren Dalton (Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Kahu ki Whaingaroa, Ngāti Porou), a director of Lone Bee, which produces sparkling mead (a low-alcohol beverage) from New Zealand honey.
  • Sera-Belinda Grubb (Ngāti Kuri, Te Aupōuri, Te Rarawa), the managing director of Mana Kai Honey, a boutique beekeeping business that also operates a honey extraction facility.
  • Joe Harawira (Ngāti Awa, Ngāi Te Rangi), the co-founder and managing director of Wai Mānuka, which produces a non-alcoholic sparkling beverage from New Zealand mānuka honey.
  • Kieran Hema (Tūhoe, Ngāti Kahungunu), a logistics manager for Miraka, one of New Zealand's largest Māori export businesses.
  • Grant Kitchen (Ngāti Hikairo, Ngāti Kahungunu), an award-winning chef and director of Kāuta Ltd, a newly established company that operates as an e-commerce platform connecting Māori food and beverage producers with consumers across NZ.
  • Helen Paul-Smith (Tapuika, Ngāi Te Rangi), the co-founder of ŌKU New Zealand, which uses New Zealand native plants known to Māori for their medicinal properties to produce premium native herb teas, skin creams and elixirs.
  • Sara Smeath (Ngā Puhi), the ceo and co-founder of CiRCLR, a sustainability start-up that operates a B2B (business-to-business) platform to reduce waste and create new revenue streams for businesses.
  • Jackie Stephens (Ngāti Rārua, Ngāti Toa, Ngāi Te Rangi), the project assistant for AuOra within Wakatū Incorporated. AuOra develops products that solve consumer health problems using active ingredients from the natural resources of land and ocean.
  • Ross Tuini Manning (Ngāi Tahu), the general manager of Treasure Pot Innovations, an incubation food manufacturing company focused on Asian fusion products.

The group will participate in an Asia New Zealand Foundation young business leaders summit in Thailand, bringing together more than 70 Southeast Asia and New Zealand entrepreneurs.

Asia New Zealand Foundation's Ethan Jones, a senior business adviser, says the visit will enable the delegation to build networks, explore the potential for collaboration and identify opportunities for business ventures.

"And they will be able to do this in a uniquely Māori way, showcasing Māori culture, custom and products to partners in the region," he said.

"Southeast Asia’s growing and youthful population and its need for protein sources mean the region will drive a lot of demand for healthy and safe foods in the years ahead. We can also expect to see Southeast Asia leading a lot of innovation in the food and beverage space."