Iwi collective beats out foreign bidders to buy 100ha of Te Puke kiwifruit orchards

The orchards will be operated under a joint venture called Matai Pacific Iwi Collective. Photo: Getty Images

Three North Island iwi have pooled their resources to buy three kiwifruit orchards in Te Puke for an undisclosed sum in a tender that was pitched to foreign buyers.

Rotorua-based Te Arawa Group Holdings and Rotoma No 1 Inc teamed up with Whakatane-based Ngāti Awa Group Holdings to buy the Te Matai, Pacific Gold and Coachman orchards, spanning 98 canopy hectares and expected to produce 1.3 million trays of SunGold G3 and Hayward kiwifruit in roughly equal percentages, or about 0.9 percent of Zespri Group's total New Zealand supply. That implies payments from Zespri of between $11.4 million and $12.3 million based on the 2017 payment of $9.76 per tray.

The orchards will be operated under a joint venture called Matai Pacific Iwi Collective, and the groups say there's potential to expand production and generate new jobs.

"This is an industry we know well, and we have a proven track record of success," Te Arawa Group Holdings chair Andrew West said in a statement. "Together we can build a bright future for our people by delivering jobs and economic growth through the booming global demand for New Zealand kiwifruit."

Bayleys Real Estate marketed the orchards in an international tender, seeking to take advantage of soaring kiwifruit prices that had seen sales of land producing SunGold G3 varieties going for between $900,000 and $1 million per hectare, and green kiwifruit orchards able to be converted to gold selling at $450,000-to-$500,000 per hectare. At an equal split on those prices, the vendors were seeking a sale price of between $66 million and $74 million, not including 102 hectares of grazing land, two residential buildings, plus the option to buy $5.2 million of Zespri shares.

Te Arawa Group Holdings manages the commercial assets for 11 Te Arawa iwi and hapū, representing 21,000 beneficiaries, while Rotoma No 1 was set up in 1908 to administer 6,637 hectares on the shore of Lake Rotoma, with a register of more than 1,800 people. Ngāti Awa Group Holdings manages the assets for 22 hapū representing 20,000 people.