Green Waste Products NZ: A Northland Startup On A Mission To Turn Gorse Into Golf Tees
Green Waste Products NZ is a groundbreaking startup founded by passionate golf enthusiasts and Rawene Golf Club Members, Koro Carman and Vaughan Hemara. The pair of golf mates from the Hokianga aim to transform the game of golf by turning gorse into golf tees.
The tees are individually and lovingly handcrafted on a lathe from the stems and offshoots of the gorse plant by Hemara, at his home in Omapere. The goal however is to scale, which will require engaging a manufacturing process. This is something that is being explored.
At the core of Green Waste Products NZ’s vision, lies a commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainability. By replacing plastic with New Zealand pest plant alternatives, the company seeks to minimise the ecological footprints of the golf industry and to inspire a generation of ‘Planet Ambassadors’.
Carman recalls the moment that sparked their innovative venture. “It was October 2021 and I was walking up the 13th fairway at the Kaikohe Golf Club, rummaging through my pocket for a kurol. When I pulled everything out and opened my hand I was surprised and shocked to see a palm full of plastic golf tees and tools. This was the moment that I started thinking about how we can remove plastic from the game of golf and what do we replace it with.”
The golf industry is a lucrative sector and growing, and transforming pest plants into products is a chance to create new ‘green’ waste to value opportunities including businesses, jobs and pathways for rangatahi and retirees. It’s also a platform to nurture hope and purpose. Carman, says “It makes sense to utilise an underutilised natural resource that currently covers 1.7 million acres or roughly 5% of Aotearoa. It’s not a bad plant, because it’s a nursery plant for native species and its nitrogen fixing. The issue is that it has spread so fast and wide that it suffocates land use opportunities and it is costly to control, not to mention that the primary control method has a harmful impact on the environment and sometimes users.”
Last week, Vollē, NZ's Premier Golf Ball brand showcased their coffee ground golf tees. Carman thinks that the coffee and gorse propositions are a real opportunity to position Aotearoa as a leader in the environmental and sustainability golf space.
Green Waste Products NZ was 1 of 10 Maori startups selected from around the country to participate in this year’s 3-month Kokiri Accelerator Programme and Carman said that this experience played a critical role in the development of a prototype and testing and connecting to an ecosystem of amazing domestic and international entrepreneurs, investors and a broad range of business professionals. One very memorable guest speaker is based in the UK and is currently working with the European Ryder Cup Golf Team.
The programme culminated in a Showcase Pitch Event at the end of June that was viewed by 250 people online and a live audience of approximately 100 people 2023 Portfolio - Kōkiri (kokiri.nz).
Carman and Hemara were mentored by a very willing and experienced team of Advisors including Ian Musson (Young Enterprise Scheme), Des Topp (CE Golf Managers Association NZ and Founding Chair of the Golf NZ Council), Kerry Topp (The Kerry Topp Collective) and Simon Lovatt (Research & Enterprise The University of Waikato).
Carman said that they have had fruitful discussions with the NZ golf industry, private landowners, government agencies and manufacturers. The positive nature of these conversations has been encouraging and inspirational.
Green Waste Products NZ has launched a Pledge Me Campaign https://lnkd.in/gTsYTm33 to raise funds to help support their endeavours for the next 12 months. Your support will help them to start changing landscapes one gorse golf tee at a time.