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Vanessa Hayes - Torere Macadamias

Mature macadamias have proven to be resilient with both drought and wet weather in New Zealand

In 2018, Vanessa Hayes from Torere Macadamias Ltd started a 10-year growth strategy for the New Zealand Macadamia Industry, however Covid closures in 2020 and 2021 and the impact of Cyclones Hale and Gabriel in 2023, delayed planting progress across all stages. The goal to have 500,000 trees planted by 2028 was extended to 2029 prior to Cyclone Gabriel and may now be extended to 2030 due to impacts across all planting regions.

Covid did attract many Maori back to their whenua (land) with a desire and passion to take over long-term leases and occupy and utilise their lands better. Stage 1 of the Growth Strategy supports and empowers Maori growers to achieve this.

"The first stage involved increasing plantings, implementing training, encouraging, and supporting Māori participation. Nursery capacity increased from 15,000 in 2018, to 50,000 plants by 2022," explains Vanessa Hayes, General Manager at Torere Macadamias Limited (TML). "Covid disrupted progress and extreme wet weather events in 2023 resulted in the loss of 12,000 newly grafted plants, delaying plant deliveries for a year. Planting areas in some regions has been reduced due to land and access damage caused by the 2023 wet weather events."

The partnership with EIT (Eastland Institute of Technology), as horticulture Tertiary training provider; began in August 2018 and continues to operate successfully today. The NZQA Level 2 and 3 horticulture qualification covers aspects of organic macadamia growing with 10 growers per year fully qualified from 2019 with a gap year because of Covid in 2020. Maori Mātauranga (knowledge) and Maramataka (moon phase) practices are incorporated in TML's daily nursery and orchard operations and included as part of the organic grower training qualifications.

From 2018, three regional Maori macadamia collectives have been formed with initial plantings started as below. Extending these collective plantings and establishing other regional collectives is ongoing to fulfill the 500,000-tree goal by 2029.

  • · 2022-24- Raukokore/Waihau Bay, 20ha (10,000 trees planted)
  • · 2023-26 - Mataatua (Eastern BOP), 75ha (37,500 trees in progress)
  • · 2025-26 - Ruatorea (Ngati Porou), proposed 20ha (10,000 trees)

Note: 2018-2024 non-Maori growers have 10,000 trees planted and further 5,000 ordered.

Macadamia Science Research
Plant and Food Research NZ (PFR) provided support and advice in 2017 for TML to develop the 10-year Macadamia Growth Strategy which started in 2018. In 2022, High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge (HVN) funded the nutritional analysis of TML's 6 top macadamia varieties used as the base for building the NZ industry. TML's kernels are higher in Selenium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Manganese & Magnesium, than kernels imported into NZ. The Riddet Institute (Massey University) has a 3-year project to analyze extractions from the husks, shells and leaves for functional food, dietary supplements, and cosmetic products.

A National Macadamia Grower Cooperative is in progress and is to be operative in 2025, comprising initially of 40 growers including 8 Maori from the Maori Collectives.

"There is a great interest to grow sustainable organic food crops in New Zealand that don't rely on huge water resources. Mature macadamias have proven to be resilient with both drought and wet weather in New Zealand recently. The Maori TV documentary on our business last week, generated interest from potential growers, requesting advice and help to join their nearest Macadamia collective and registering to attend our monthly Grower Field Days at Torere."

TML's crop projection for 2024 is 20ton NIS at 10% moisture content. The combined TML grower group projection is 54 ton NIS; this will increase every year as the new trees come into production. There is no export of macadamias at the moment, however, TML has contracts with AirNZ for Macadamia Karengo/Kawakawa Dukkah in their lounges from April and Cinnamon Glaze snacks on their long haul and business class flights from July 2024.

"There is a big demand for organic macadamias and for specialist products that include indigenous plants for uniqueness. The ultimate goal is to build a brand for NZ organic macadamias based on high nutrition, backed by science that is accepted and acknowledged globally and to to gain premium value for growers. New Zealand can't compete on volume or price, but it can lead in the organic, health and nutrition premium price market for macadamias.

For more information:

Vanessa Hayes
Torere Macadamias Ltd
Tel: +64 274 687588
[email protected]