Tuesday, 06 February 2024 08:55

Long-serving Miraka chairman, board members step down

Written by  Peter Burke
Kingi Smiler Kingi Smiler

The man largely responsible for setting up Miraka, the country’s first Māori dairy company, is stepping down.

Kingi Smiler was the driving force behind Miraka when it was established at a site northwest of Taupo in 2010. He served as its inaugural chair.

His stepping down from the board is a constitutional issue which states that the maximum time a director can serve on the board is 12 years.

Smiler who has 45 years in the business and commercial world is also chairman of Wairarapa Moana Incorporation, which is the largest shareholder and biggest single supplier of milk to Miraka.

It has 10,500 cows on 12 dairy farms and support blocks in the central north island near the township of Mangakino and it was this operation that was one of the catalysts for the establishment of Miraka.

At present about 100 farms supply milk to Miraka.

Other Māori trusts were also involved including one that supplied geothermal power to the factory. Miraka is the only factory in NZ to run on geothermal power.

The other key factor in the establishment of Miraka was the setting up of a joint venture with the large Vietnamese dairy giant Vinamilk and this has been instrumental in the export growth direction of the company.

Today Miraka is one of New Zealand’s largest Māori export businesses, with exports of $300 million to a total of 25 countries – in South East Asian region and include Vietnam, China, the Philippines and Thailand. They also export to the US, El Salvador and Chile.

Under the leadership of Smiler, Miraka has expanded from initially producing milk powders to new products such as UHT milk, frozen cream and milk concentrate. The company has won many awards and is lauded for the way that staff and suppliers are treated. They have a scheme that rewards farmers for the quality of their milk.

Other founding directors retiring are Maxwell Parkin and Mai Kieu Lien, and they are being replaced by Te Horipo Karaitiana and Truc Le Quang Thanh who are the appointees of Wairarapa Moana and Vinamilk of Vietnam respectively.

Nigel Atherfold was also appointed an Independent Director. Bruce Scott, a current board member, takes over as chair.

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