A growing number of Māori entities are involved in New Zealand’s high quality and rapidly growing fruit industry. Strengths of the industry include New Zealand’s environment, which is free of many of the major pests and diseases prevalent in other parts of the world, and a climate and soils that allow a wide range of fruit crops to flourish.
Kiwifruit, apples and avocados account for the biggest volumes and most produce is exported. Other fruit crops, such as berryfruit, citrus and summerfruit, are either exported, sold locally or used in processing. Fresh fruit exports generally supply northern hemisphere markets in their off season, bringing in around NZ$1.5 billion in export returns each year. Processed fruit products, such as apple juice and frozen fruit and jams, earn around NZ$100 million in exports annually.
New Zealand supplies just over 20% of the world’s kiwifruit. The first seeds were brought here from China in 1904 and, in 1928, Hayward Wright produced the Hayward (green) cultivar which is now grown around the world. With Plant & Food Research, the grower-owned kiwifruit marketer Zespri also developed ZESPRI® GOLD Kiwifruit which was released in 1998. The two are continuing to work together to develop new varieties and improve current varieties.
Apples have been grown and exported for over 100 years with Hawke’s Bay and Nelson being the main growing regions. The industry is focused on breeding new apple and pear varieties and continuous development of sustainable production practices.
Wine is also an increasingly important industry and one with significant potential for Māori land. Although small in international terms, the industry is known globally for distinctive flavours, innovative winemaking, and a reputation for quality. Annually, the industry employs more than 16,000 people.
Research and innovation is a well established and an integral part of the horticulture industry. Resources are being directed into new varieties, flavour and high-value products, alternative crops, ways of improving productivity and more sustainable methods of production. This presents additional opportunities for Māori growers and businesses to enter high value retail markets.
Plant & Food Research is the key research provider in this area and integrates science across the value chain – dedicated to combining traditional knowledge, market insight and a fundamental understanding of food resources and production systems to ensure that value is realised.