Finally we may be seeing a change in the thinking by the New Zealand sheep industry. One of the largest corporate farmers in New Zealand, Land Corp, is taking a look at sheep dairying. And who are leaders in this industry, yes a Māori land trust on the shores of Lake Taupo. Waituhi Kuratau Trust has been pioneering a dairying operation for the last 6 years, successfully milking and making cheese and yoghurt products from sheep milk. And not only has it been doing it for it's self but it has been responsible for providing milk to other cheese makers who have gone on to win many awards for the great products they produce. And now finally this might be the time when the wider sheep industry will look to make a move into a world class export lead industry. And Māori are at the leading edge. Congratulations to there vision. They deserve recognition for there determination.
Congratulations to AllGood Organics. Voted the fairest of them all, namely top of the Fairtrade tree, this company has beat out other international Fairtrade companies to land the recognition of the best and fairest Fairtrade company the world has to offer. New Zealand should be proud of this company. Only being around for the last 5 years it has focused on providing ethical, innovative and sustainable food products that not only support Fairtrade cooperatives from the other side of the world, but also sees it providing aid to build a much need bridge for the community that supplies the cola nuts for its cola drink. Groovy baby groovy.
Here is some forward thinking. The University of Winnipeg is running a course on sustainable development from an indigenous perspective. Called the Master’s in Development Practice (MDP) in Indigenous Development. It integrates indigenous knowledge in to the curriculum. Not only is it attracting indigenous students but a good helping of international students also. It makes sense doesn't it to recognize knowledge that has been used over thousands of years to sustain and maintain the environment you want. Let's hope we see more of these types of course across the world.
Got to love the Slow Food movement. They understand and promote the importance of good food, not only the physical benefits but spiritual, cultural and social. Apart form the wonderful events they host around the world, projects like the The Ark of Taste provides real on the ground actions that can help indigenous cultures preserve and maintain the tools, knowledge and seeds we will need in the future to restore our food ecosystems. Is there an opportunity to contribute? I think so.
These reports released by the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (CAPI) provides a good understanding of the opportunities and threats for the Canadian agri-foods sector. But these insights I believe have equal application to the development of a global indigenous food industry wishing to breakout of the commodity trap into more value add products. In particular the paper entitled Differentiate to Compete: the Consumer Perspective provides a good summary of what we as food providers need to be considering. Clear message, integrity, food security, safety and foods tailored to the persons values, culture and aspirations. Embed these understandings into your product development and create products for the 21st century.
Many years past, our ancestors (Māori) used to trade with others, whether they were inland or coastal locations. They even traded with those who were located across the oceans, such as with Sydney, Australia, our nearest trading country. They traveled extensively to Sydney to explore the opportunities of new technologies like carpentry and gardening. Our ancestors even traded with the Pacific islands.
They would trade in flax, potatoes, which they traded with Europeans. In return Māori were seeking nails to make into chisels. They wanted fish-hooks, axes, and most of all, they wanted guns. So, as early as the late 1700s, Māori have always been entrepreneurs and innovative trading people.
Hence the need to re-visit our past and re-connect with other indigenous traders to establish those links, based on those values we held dear to our very way of life, and which determined the way we behaved towards each other. I believe that all indigenous peoples can lead the world in the way trading can be practiced, whether it is for goods or services, not only on a national basis, but a global basis too. I would call it "WorldiTraders (WiT)". Some might even view this as another form of "Globalisation". Possibly, but I would even place myself in the risky position of mentioning that due to the very nature and similarities of all indigenous peoples worldview and value systems, I would say that there would be a balance between economic and social values on those societies, rather than the imbalance under the current economic model of the "Haves" and "Have-Nots".
However, on a more positive note, let those of us who currently trade now, and those who wish to venture into the exciting world of indigenous trading come together, and as John Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise commands, "Make it so".