Māori winemakers have formed the TUKU collective to take their brands into the future – sustainably.
FOR MOST BUSINESSES, long-term planning means looking three to five years into the future. But for the Māori winemakers who make up the new TUKU collective, it means thinking about the next 300 to 500 years.
TUKU’s five members – Steve Bird Wines, Kuru Kuru, Ostler Wine, te Pā Family Vineyards and Tiki – have joined forces in the name of sustainability, both of their brands and of their land. “Not only do we treat each other like family and work together, we also want to grow our businesses so we can be here for the long term,” says te Pā owner Haysley MacDonald.
Together, they cover all of New Zealand’s main wine-making regions and, through TUKU, they hope to strengthen indigenous wine-making as a whole. “There are very few that work collectively in this industry, that will share ideas, share market resources, share a meal together.”
Before the launch last month, the five members signed a charter outlining the key tenets of TUKU: kaitiakitanga (guardianship), whanaungatanga (kinship) and whakapapa (lineage), all underpinned by manaakitanga (hospitality).
They agreed to be open and transparent in the way they dealt with each other and with customers, one of which is Air New Zealand, which serves te Pā sauvignon blanc and Kuru Kuru pinot noir in Business Premier.
In November, all five winemakers, along with the eight other companies that make up the Hui Māori Collective, will launch on the Chinese e-commerce site Tmall Global, part of the Alibaba Group. MacDonald says buyers are drawn in by TUKU’s story of a deep connection to the land across generations.
“There’s a push for authenticity behind brands and what people are buying. They want to know it’s not just a label. “As a collective, we all offer something unique to the group, and we’re finding that customers are very welcoming of that.”