Māori blessing opens new Zespri office in Bologna

Media Release

21 May 2019

Zespri has officially opened its new office in Bologna with a traditional Māori blessing and the hanging of a unique Māori carving to emphasise Zespri Europe’s connection to New Zealand.

The office was blessed today during a visit by delegates on the Zespri Māori Growers Tour, made up of New Zealand Māori growers and Zespri representatives on a 12-day tour of Europe to build connections with European growers and learn more about the European market. Māori growers are also visiting significant battle sites such as Cassino to honour their ancestors who fought in the world wars.

Zespri CEO Dan Mathieson says the tour provided a great opportunity for New Zealand’s Zespri growers to build relationships with their European colleagues, and to underline Zespri’s commitment to Europe – one of our largest markets.

“Our hundreds of Italian and French growers are a key part of our strategy to market the world’s leading portfolio of kiwifruit 12-months a year, which is helping drive greater returns for growers and communities in New Zealand and Europe and delivering healthy, nutritious fruit to our millions of consumers.

“It’s really important we continue to build connections between our growers across the world and this Māori Growers Tour and the Bologna office blessing and carving are an important part of that. Zespri’s ambition is to help communities all around the world thrive through the goodness of kiwifruit. We’ve been working with growers in Italy for around 20 years to do that and we plan to continue to do so.

“Zespri’s major offices across the world include a carving to symbolise our unique New Zealand heritage and so that our staff can maintain that important connection and it’s great to now have this in Bologna.”

Tour spokesperson and kiwifruit grower Pita Tipene says the blessing was a special occasion.

“It’s great for us to be able to meet our colleagues in Europe, to be able to share ideas and to learn more so we can take those lessons and connections home to help create more value for our communities.

“The unveiled carving symbolises the fusing of our Māori beliefs into our unique Zespri and New Zealand culture. Therefore, we will be applying our unique Māori customs and taking our stories to the world through this strong and vibrant relationship.”

Carver James Tapiata, of Ngai Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui and Ngati Porou descent, says the carving – named Te Aka Tuhono - represents the links between New Zealand and Europe.

“The vines in the carving represent the kiwifruit industry with Zespri in the middle, bringing everything together.

“That’s what the name means. ‘Aka’ means ‘the vines that hang from the heavens that we all cling to when we aspire to do something that is absolutely right’, while ‘tuhono’ means that everything is bound together to become inseparable, including Māori and European growers.

“It also represents the theme of being able to work together without losing your individuality, to interact and to learn from each other to do better together, as we’ve done on this tour. The fact we are all working together means we are doing better together, and that’s important.”

Mr Tapiata says the counter-directional spirals in the carving also represent the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, where the European and Māori growers live, while different parts of New Zealand are also depicted. Patterns used on the carving depict the various iwi connections of the growers involved in the tour.