A Tairāwhiti group looking to optimise the sustainable growth and harvest of kānuka is set to receive up to $242,000 from the Ministry for Primary Industries for its erosion control benefits.
Hikurangi Bioactives Limited Partnership, a majority community-owned charitable company, is looking to identify optimal growing and sustainable harvesting techniques for bioactive extracts from existing mature kānuka strands grown in and around Ruatoria.
The funding comes from MPI's Erosion Control Funding Programme community grant which helps East Coast landowners, community groups, iwi, organisations and businesses with innovative ideas, to help reduce erosion in the Tairāwhiti region.
"Hikurangi Bioactives wants to optimise the use of mature kānuka which is already growing on about 30% of land in the Ruatoria district. The group has been researching new techniques and emerging markets for bioactive extracts from kānuka for use in health and beauty products for some time," says Ben Dalton, deputy director-general, Sector Partnerships and Programmes."If successful, the long-term potential for a bioactives industry on the East Coast could be huge and the whole region will benefit from a new, high-value industry that creates jobs.
"At the same time kānuka has significant environmental and erosion control benefits and keeping it in the ground will help retain existing land cover, particularly on steep and erosion-prone land. Gisborne has the worst eroding land in New Zealand due to its geology, steep terrain, and increasing adverse weather events," Mr Dalton said.
"We'll be working with plant scientists and local landowners to research a wide range of areas, including plant genetics, optimal planting and growing conditions and locations, best harvest times and techniques and the use of technologies to promote plant health and good regrowth," says Manu Caddie from Hikurangi Bioactives.
"Providing jobs and education opportunities is also a large component of our ongoing work. Through this project we're looking to raise awareness about the opportunities for kānuka and to give locals a real appreciation of job potential in the sciences – particularly in biology, chemistry and genetics."
Since 1992, when the Erosion Control Funding Programme opened, $49 million has been spent on erosion control in Tairāwhiti, with 42,000 hectares of land being treated to date. Twenty-six percent of land in Tairāwhiti is susceptible to severe erosion, compared to 8% of land for the rest of the country.
MPI works closely with Gisborne District Council and Te Runanganui o Ngāti Porou on a number of erosion-related initiatives. The 3 organisations have a joint team of people based in Gisborne and Ruatoria available to support landowners and community groups through the application process.