Business North June 2022

66 | HORTICULTURE Torere Macadamias Macadamias no novelty these days Virginia Wright Macadamia training course: fom left – Walter Rika, Torere Macadamias Nursery/Orchard Manager, Guy DeLautour from Eastland Institute of Technology, and Patrick Snelgar, Nick Gould and Andrew Barnett from the Plant & Food Research Team at Te Puke. Below Vanessa and Rod in their macadamia nursery. 0800 000 501 Solutions to your water needs Supporting Torere Macadamias Supporting you with: Project Budgeting Planning Liasing Supply We Supply: • DRINKING WATER SYSTEMS • IRRIGATION SYSTEMS • SEWERAGE SYSTEMS • CIVIL WORKS PROJECTS • FASTENINGS • WORK SAFETY GEAR • WATER TANKS • EFFLUENT IRRIGATION SYSTEMS • INSTANT CONCRETE & MORTAR • TRAFFIC SIGNS & ACCESSORIES • WATER METERS • BACKFLOW PREVENTION • ALL TYPES OF PIPES • VALVING They’re an accepted part of the horticulture landscape in New Zealand now, but back in 1983 macadamias were almost a novelty and not a lot were grown here. Surrounded by family on both sides growing many of the things New Zealanders knew well, from avocado to kiwifruit, when it came time for Vanessa Hayes to decide what to grow on the 11ha block at Torere (Nga Tai) she was gifted by a great-uncle in exchange for her home in Gisborne. She decided to research macadamias to find which varieties were most likely to thrive there and founded Torere Macadamias Limited in 1999. “It was a matter of me doing the research to find out which were the best-suited and that led to me finding out that back then most of the macadamias grown in New Zealand had to be picked from the trees and the trees are prickly horrible things so I decided I didn’t want that.” “I knew there were dropping varieties, so I located all the dropping varieties in NZ to bring back to my land and trial to see which were the best,” explains Vanessa Then followed years of importing and trialing the best international dropping varieties resulting in Vanessa, together with partner Rod Husband obtaining exclusive rights to 12 commercial, high producing, dropping macadamia nut varieties which they had proved to their own satisfaction would thrive in New Zealand. Today the block of land situated 20 kilometres out of Opotiki on the East Coast Road has 1500 organic, sustainably grown macadamia trees producing nuts, and a further 1500 being planted in Spring 2022. As Vanessa, a successful Life Insurance Broker describes it, it had its ups and downs like any other horticultural company before they got to where they are now. “It was never going to be a full-time occupation, it was a hobby, so I guess my insurance business was the cash cow for my macadamia hobby.” After 40 years that changed and Vanessa sold the insurance business which she loved, this time last year, so that she could concentrate solely on the macadamia business which has grown to a size where she couldn’t do both. Now the largest macadamia nursery in New Zealand with around 50,000 plants sold annually, Torere Macadamias has eight employees on site while in Gisborne two full time staff and two casual take care of the packing and distribution of their macadamias as well as sales and marketing. Vanessa herself is kept busy with the NZ Macadamia Growth Strategy she was instrumental in developing in 2018, as well as ongoing science research projects. For example a partnership project with High Value Nutrition, and Plant and Food Research “I love helping landowners actually feel that they have the knowledge to develop their own land.” Ltd. includes analysing the nutritional composition of six of the 12 Torere varieties to show: which ones are higher in protein thus useful for protein replacement products; higher in calcium thus good for milk, butters, yoghurts and so on; and which ones are higher in oil. A further research project will break down the lipids within those oils to inform the different uses they can be put to. “The research project has just been completed and the results achieved everything I expected plus more. They identified significantly higher nutrient values for Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and Selenium which is really exciting. This information feeds into the new macadamia nutritional info panel which will be available on the New Zealand Food Composition Database’s next online release which can be used by our licensed growers.” Perhaps dearest to Vanessa’s heart and taking up a lot of her time daily is her regional development work combining employment, training and education of growers and grower groups so that they become skilled and qualified themselves. “I’ve got three development projects on the go at the moment,” says Vanessa. Waihau Bay, that’s a 20-hectare macadamia development involving eight separate Maori land blocks growing macadamias this spring. “The next one is the Mataatua Collective, which is a group of 11 Maori land blocks scattered from Pukehina through to Torere, that’s 53 hectares we’re applying for investment and funding to develop into macadamias, as well as the training alongside. The third is for 40 hectares in Ruatoria that is in early planning along the same lines.” “I love helping landowners actually feel that they have the knowledge to develop their own land, and it’s not just Maori, we’ve got young Pakeha dairy farmers who want to take out part of their block and diversify, especially around waterways, and grow macadamias because we do it organically. I just love it.”