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Nuku ki te Puku

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Callaghan Innovation’s Nuku ki te Puku programme is turning 'food for thought' into 'food for tech'.

Bringing people together to foster ideas, build networks and to challenge one another’s work practices has been the overarching goal of Nuku ki te Puku, Callaghan Innovation’s Maori economy programme.

The programme is the brainchild of Hemi Rolleston, Callaghan Innovation GM, Maori Economy, who has been steering the direction of the programme for the last two-and-a-half years, which works with more than a dozen food and beverage businesses across the value chain to expose them to the thinking of companies who innovate through R&D and technology.

Rolleston says it’s vital this cross-pollination happens.

“Food and beverage businesses need to step-up their technology capacity today.

“Historically, because food and drink industries are based around straight-forward growing and manufacturing processes, they’re not always thinking about the ways technology can add value and benefit them”.

Hemi Rolleston

Hemi Rolleston

In 2014 and 2015 Nuku participants attended Stanford University, meeting researchers and affiliated businesses with the university’s d school (school of design) to experience the university’s world-leading innovators’ hub.

The goal of the Nukus is to connect technology seeking parties to one another – exposing Maori food and businesses to global trends and opportunities. However the emphasis is on building relationships, both internationally and between the Nuku members themselves.

“A lot of the parties didn’t know each other before this project began. Now we’re seeing the Nuku members regularly meeting, sharing ideas and collaborating – the programme’s joined the dots, and we’re seeing these businesses thriving in new ways”.

Watch how Nuku ki te Puku participants have innovated through the programme:

Two recent projects have come about through the programme. Ngati Porou’s fisheries division has partnered with New World Victoria Park to bring a new smoked fish product, Ahia, to consumers. The introduction through the Nuku programme meant the two businesses were interested in working together by directly connecting grower to pack house, and pack house to supermarket. A new high-value berry product that could create international reach, similar to the Gold Kiwifruit, is currently being negotiated by several Nuku partners.

The Nuku members visit each other’s businesses every quarter to keep the energy and learning from one another rolling into more opportunities. This is what Rolleston hoped for when he established the programme – for inspiration to rub off, regenerate and expand Maori business innovation.

Updated: 7 July 2022