27 Jun 2018

Frozen Pūhā smoothie anyone? Iwi-run business takes top food award

11:36 am on 27 June 2018

Kūmara, pūhā, kawakawa and rewarewa honey could soon be regular ingredients in your morning smoothie thanks to award-winning Māori superfood business, Kaitahi.

Leoni Matoe and Pete Abraham check on the puha at the Kii Tahi plant nursery in Patea.

Leoni Matoe and Pete Abraham check on the puha at the Kii Tahi plant nursery in Patea. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

The south Taranaki business received top prize at the Fine Food New Zealand Innovation Awards for its frozen smoothie droplets that are added to liquid.

Kaitahi's business development manager Leonie Matoe told Morning Report the idea for the came from the desire to innovate traditional Māori foods.

"In 2015, there was a collective group within our iwi, Ngā Rauru Kītahi, that got together and wanted to contribute something positive in terms of economic development in our region," she said.

"We also wanted to create something that was in harmony with our values, with our environment and highlighted who we are and where we are from."

Ms Matoe said Kaitahi products mixed New Zealand native plant foods with fruits, vegetables and seeds and are turned into frozen droplets.

"The trends that we could see with superfoods, that we could have an impact by introducing the notion of native superfoods, because for us our food is our medicine."

"This venture allows us to innovate with our tradition and deliver these foods in contemporary form."

Ms Matoe said Kaitahi had cautiously entered the market by initially only selling through food trade shows to ensure it could cope with demand when sourcing ingredients.

"We are currently organising a second production run and we expect to be able to stock in speciality stores and selected metropolitan cafes."

She was elated by the win as the award provided support which will help Kaitahi to continue to meet demand, she said.

Over the next year, Ms Matoe said Kaitahi will look at selling its products in like-minded stores with a similar value alignment.

"Certainly in the future, three to five years, we want to have this in arms reach of every family and we also have our eye on exports. So it's very, very exciting for us."