The man behind New Zealand’s newest agricultural training venture is a local farmer and entrepreneur – with a proven track record in the sector.
It also provides support services if they do so. Known as Poutama Whenua ('Pathways into Land'), the initiative includes programmes provided by Lincoln University specifically targeting Maori students including vocational certificates and diplomas, all the way to undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.
Maori primary sector assets are key economic resources for whānau, hapu, iwi and Māori communities, but also come with challenges when looking to balance Māori collective aspirations for economic advancement next to kaitiakitanga (guardianship).
With the growing portfolio of Maori assets coupled with an increasing number of Maori businesses operating in a range of land-based commercial endeavours (such as dairy farming or eco-tourism), a diverse well-trained workforce is required. The aim of Poutama Whenua is to make a significant contribution to providing this workforce.
The Poutama Whenua initiative also includes programmes aimed at environmental management, with Maori increasingly called upon to provide expertise on issues of sustainability and resource management.
The Poutama Whenua approach supports Lincoln University's broader Whenua strategy; with its emphasis on positive transformation for Maori land, Maori communities and, ultimately, the Maori economy," says assistant vice-chancellor, communities, Professor Hirini Matunga.
"Upskilling young Māori to contribute to growing a diverse, thriving and sustainable primary sector has the potential to transform these individuals; including whānau and hapu that comprise these communities."
The next few months will see Mokowhiti Consultancy taking Poutama Whenua out to 26 schools with a high Maori student population.