Photo: Kānuka forest Whareponga, East Cape

CHEMMAT’s Associate Professor Saeid Baroutian, his family, CHEMMAT’s Dr Xing Xin, Dr Sinemobong Essien and a team from the Office of Pro-Vice-Chancellor Māori (Mike Steedman- Kaiarataki), Uniservices (Dr Andy Shenk – CEO and Tui Kaumoana – Kaiarahi), Faculty of Business and Economics (Dr Kiri Dell, Prof Snejina Michailova – Associate Dean Research, A/P Christine Woods – Associate Dean Equity, Prof Kenneth Husted and Anahera Morehu – Kaiarahi Māori), MPI, NZ Food Innovation Network, and industry met with the Māori community of Whareponga Valley in Ruatoria, East Cape (Ngati Porou).

This hui was built on the previous half-day wananga held at the Engineering Faculty and sought developing commercial opportunities from kanuka tree and explore other land and native plant development projects to advance the economic development of Māori land initiatives. Throughout the three fascinating days, the team had the privilege of staying at Whareponga marai and meeting with the local Māori community and landowners. During this hui, Saeid presented his research and the products he has developed from kanuka to the Māori people of Whareponga.

This commercialisation project is run by Saeid Baroutian and Kiri Dell (Faculty of Business and Economics) and supported by the Faculty of Engineering and UniServices. Kānuka is an especially extensive resource of under-utilised Māori land. While simultaneously providing more employment for these communities, this project also addresses a national challenge of utilising idle Māori land for the economic contribution towards Māori. With the Māori Landowners and UniServices (as stakeholders), Saeid and Kiri have established a spin-off company. They are partnering with the local companies and ingredient suppliers to make and sell their kanuka products.

– Written by A/P Saeid Baroutian

Photo from left: CHEMMAT’s Drs Sinemobong Essien, Xing Xin and A/P Saeid Baroutian

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