The first ever Māori winemakers collective will be debuting at Winetopia later this month.
“It’s a collective of like-minded people who think that we can achieve more with our business and our chosen careers by working together than by working individually,” said Tuku Māori Winemakers Collective chairman, Steve Bird
Steve Bird talks about the first ever Maori winemakers collective, Tuku.
The group came together after members realised it would be more cost-effective to collaborate in trying to showcase their wines overseas and at New Zealand events, and that they could share ideas and help each other.
The five wine companies are te Pā Family Vineyards, Tiki Wine & Vineyards, Bird Wines, Kuru Kuru Wines, and Ostler Wine.
“There’s a very strong sort of family feeling about it,” Bird said.
They had come together based on “certain commonalities”.
“We all whakapapa back to specific waka … we identify as Māori or Māori families.”
They are all artisan winemakers that share common values, such as a sense of whānau and a connection and understanding of the land.
“We all like to have a bit of fun, we all love wine, we’ve all been in the game for a long time, know each other and pretty much know where the bones are buried. We all have stories we can tell which pretty much shouldn’t see the light of day.
“You’re not going to come and sit around the table with any of the Tuku team, you’re going to come and share a meal.”
Each group contributes something different to the collective – te Pā Wines have owned and farmed the same piece of land for 800 years, while Jeff Sinnott from Ostler was “one of the most technically competent winemakers” in New Zealand, and Hayden Johnston of Kuru Kuru Wines has experience distributing wines in the UK.
They are also focused on sustainability and looking to the future for their families.
Bird said Tuku’s official launch is not until July, but they are debuting at Winetopia in Wellington at the end of the month.
Head chef at Boulcott St Bistro, Rex Morgan, will be running the event’s first pop-up restaurant, and is teaming with Tuku to create dishes to match their wines.
He will incorporate “subtle” Māori flavours in the dishes, he said.
Morgan focuses on showcasing Māori foods “without gimmicks”. Some of the ideas he wants to include in his dishes are seaweed, hangi and smoke.
Winetopia organiser Rob Elliot said there would be a few new things at this year’s event for people to experience.
There will be 60 wineries taking part, so visitors can sample all parts of New Zealand’s winescape.
They can attend food and wine matching masterclasses, sample a champagne Bollinger jelly, and talk to top winemakers.
He is expecting about 4000 people at each Winetopia event this year.