China International Import Expo: HUI Maori Collective launched in New Zealand to promote trade with China
A group of indigenous Maori food producers in New Zealand has launched a new export collective. The group plans to head to Shanghai for the China International Import Expo in November. The HUI Maori Collective has received government support to sell a range of high quality foods and beverages. They're also hoping to tap into cultural similarities between the Maori and Chinese people. Owen Poland tells the story from Wellington.
Traditional Maori singing wafted through Wellington's distinctive 'Beehive' Parliament buildings to celebrate the official launch of the HUI Maori Collective.
Eleven Maori businesses have joined forces to export wine, manuka honey, fruit bars and a soft drink to China, and they're supported by a Government that wants to promote trade.
DAVID PARKER NEW ZEALAND MINISTER FOR TRADE AND EXPORT GROWTH "The brand values of the HUI Maori Collective are underpinned by the standards of integrity of you as people but also the integrity of your products."
That integrity has seen the Collective become the first coalition of exporters to join the Government's Food Trust Framework which guarantees that products are high quality, authentic - and safe.
STEVE BIRD HUI MAORI COLLECTIVE MEMBER "We need people to understand that we're the real deal, we're genuine, we're Tangata Whenua, the people of the land."
Products from the HUI Collective will be sold on China's Tmall Global website which represents another breakthrough for Maori exporters.
NANAIA MAHUTA NEW ZEALAND MINISTER FOR MAORI DEVELOPMENT "For the very first time we can enter into the modern world of e-commerce in ways that continue to derive benefit to those businesses, yes."
OWEN POLAND WELLINGTON "The Maori collective chose the word HUI because, amazingly, it has a common meaning of meeting or coming together in both the Maori and Chinese languages. And the 'U' in the middle symbolizes a traditional Maori food basket."
The two cultures also share similar values around family life and long-term goals which the Collective hopes will strengthen their connection with Chinese consumers.
HAYDEN JOHNSTON HUI MAORI COLLECTIVE CHAIRMAN "I'd like to think that we understand each other in a better way, and if that results in a competitive advantage then that's great."
The Government also hopes the Collective will boost New Zealand's international brand status.
NANAIA MAHUTA NEW ZEALAND MINISTER FOR MAORI DEVELOPMENT "The more that we can ensure that New Zealand gains advantage from what Maori contributes to that brand, but also to the economy, the more that we will all benefit."
And while the four winemakers in the Collective are sometimes fierce competitors, being in a coalition with family values gives them greater strength.
STEVE BIRD HUI MAORI COLLECTIVE MEMBER "There's a free flow of knowledge that goes between each of the members that perhaps large multi-national corporations wouldn't share. But we're family, we're brothers, we're sisters, we're cousins."
The next stop for the HUI Collective is Shanghai where they'll join a strong New Zealand representation at the China International Import Expo. Owen Poland, CGTN, Wellington.