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Māori team up with Crown to breed unique berries

Māori team up with Crown to breed unique berries for global markets

15 March 2018

A joint venture company has been created to breed and develop new unique berry varieties to be marketed exclusively by Māori-owned firm Miro Limited Partnership (Miro).

The Government-owned science institute Plant & Food Research and Miro signed a 50:50 joint venture agreement at an event hosted this afternoon by Ngati Haua at the iwi’s Rukumoana Marae in Morrinsville. Hon Willie Jackson, Minister of Employment and Associate Minister for Māori Development, attended and spoke at the event.

The agreement provides the new company with access to Plant & Food Research berry genetics for the development of proprietary new varieties. The joint venture partners will create a breeding programme for new high-value berry varieties, and Miro will grow, market and sell the berries in New Zealand and globally with support from BerryCo NZ Limited.

The joint venture is a milestone in horticultural entrepreneur Steve Saunders’ vision for Miro, to create a step-change in both the New Zealand berry industry and the regional Māori economy for current and future generations.

Miro Chair Rukumoana Schaafhausen said “Miro is owned by over twenty Māori trusts, iwi and entities from the top of the north to the top of the South Island, from the East Coast to Taranaki. We came together because we wanted jobs for our people, higher returns on our land, and to own IP and a global business that would secure a future for our mokopuna. We’re so excited about the opportunities ahead of us and we would love for more Māori landowners to join in.

“In simple terms, Miro is aiming to build a business every bit as successful as Zespri. It represents a high-value, market-led, vertically integrated berry export business. There’s no reason why berries can’t be the next billion dollar New Zealand horticulture industry, and we’re proud to partner with Plant & Food Research to create that future.”

Plant & Food Research CEO David Hughes says the joint venture is aligned with the science company’s mandate to use research innovation to add value to fruit, vegetable, crop and food products and their industries.

“In Miro we have a partner with global ambitions matched by scale and capability in New Zealand,” said David Hughes. “This deal will open up fresh innovation challenges for our scientists and it’s a welcome addition to our diverse range of commercial activity. We are especially pleased to contribute to the rapidly-growing Māori economy and to support job creation and business activity in the regions.”

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