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Source: New Zealand Government

The Provincial Growth Fund is investing $2.1 million in a blueberry orchard initiative, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau announced today.

“The Meihana Koata Trust will receive a loan from the PGF’s Whenua Māori allocation to develop an 18.8 hectare blueberry orchard on Māori land in partnership with Miro, a collective of 29 Māori iwi, hapū and whānau, working together to support Māori land and people through high value horticulture,” Mr Peters said.

This funding follows an earlier announcement of a $2.125 million Whenua Māori loan to the Trust in February 2020.

“Today’s announcement will enable the Meihana Koata Trust and Miro to create employment opportunities quickly, and support further development and construction at the blueberry farm,” said Mr Tabuteau.

“This project represents a sustainable, modern approach to developing Māori land. It provides opportunities for its staff to be trained in high-tech horticultural practices, while creating value for New Zealand’s primary sector.

“The Trust and Miro have already developed 9 hectares of the orchard and are preparing for the first harvest later this year.

“The PGF is supporting these landowners to unlock the economic potential of their whenua, producing greater returns for the Trust’s beneficiaries, and creating an estimated 157 local jobs,” said Mr Tabuteau.

“We want to minimise any disproportionate economic impacts of COVID-19 in our regions and it is important we support Māori-owned and led initiatives that have the ability to boost economic wellbeing for tangata whenua,” Mr Peters said.

Note to editors: Funding from the Provincial Growth Fund is approved in principle and announced, after which contracts are negotiated. Some funding may depend on completion of business cases. Payments are made once agreed milestones are met. These are set as part of contract negotiations, and differ from project to project.