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Tātau Tātau o Te Wairoa Celebrates Graduation Of First Horticulture Cadets And Expansion Plans

The Graduates. Photo/Supplied

Tātau Tātau o Te Wairoa Trust today proudly announce the graduation of the first five cadets from its cadet horticulture programme, marking a significant milestone in the development of local talent and the region's economic growth. These cadets have successfully completed their level 3 horticulture certification over the last 3 years while working on orchard.

The graduates, Donald Carroll, Frank King, Sirius Tamati-Smith, Rome Robinson-Kawana, and George Cox, have all secured management roles within the Whakapau and Tara Orchards. Their roles span from Block Lead to Foreman positions, reflecting the diverse opportunities provided by the Trust's comprehensive employment and training programme.

Leon Symes, Chair of Tātau Tātau o Te Wairoa, emphasised the significance of the horticulture programme in the long-term prosperity of Wairoa.

"Our horticulture venture is not only about economic returns but also about nurturing our land, water and providing opportunities for our community. The earn as you learn approach and progression into management roles of all five cadets underscores the effectiveness of our training and career programme."

Since its inception, Tātau Tātau o Te Wairoa has planted 28 hectares of Māori- land owned by the trust and Ohuia Incorporation, transitioning from traditional sheep and beef farming to horticulture. This initiative has not only created employment but also provided valuable training for rangatahi cadets, fostering sustainable growth in the region.

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Looking towards the future, the Trust is actively seeking investment through the Regional Infrastructure Fund to expand and accelerate its horticulture operations. Symes outlined plans for water storage, orchard infrastructure, and the establishment of a first stage packhouse which will provide vital infrastructure for current and future economic growth.

“At the moment our apples get graded in Hastings – to cut down the movement and transportation on roads that are impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle, we want to retain and do the grading here –- it also means that any fruit not exported will go back into the community. There may be opportunities to distribute or process them locally.”

According to Symes the funding will accelerate Whakapau development in Wairoa which will in turn boost economic resilience through diversification, create jobs and training for locals, increase local economic returns, and position Wairoa as a hub for horticultural expansion in the region.

“Our goals are to grow diversified crops, employ 35 fulltime orchard staff and develop our own IP brand of fruit. Through a Provincial Growth Fund loan in 2021 we have already successfully established an 18 hectare canopy apple orchard as a joint venture with Ohuia incorporation in Marumaru, north of Wairoa. This is already contributing $800,000 annually in salaries to the local economy so far.”

He emphasised, "Our long-term vision is to bolster economic growth and social well-being in Wairoa, ensuring resilience in the face of challenges such as Cyclone Gabrielle. We are inviting central government to partner with us to achieve our common goals of creating local/regional economic resilience and local employment. Our track record so far proves our ability to deliver.”

He says Tātau Tātau o Te Wairoa Trust remains dedicated to fostering talent, supporting economic growth, and promoting sustainability in Wairoa and beyond.

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