Maori are the indigenous people of Aotearoa (New Zealand). For centuries Maori have worked, lived and respected the rugged yet fertile lands of our ancestors. There is a strong awareness among Maori that earth is the giver of all life and that it is the responsibility of the people to protect the land for future generations to thrive from.
Maori arrived from Eastern Polynesia in great ocean sailing canoes (known as Waka) approximately 1000 years ago. Led by great explorers, they named the country Aotearoa (Land of the Long White Cloud). Establishing communities throughout the country, Maori developed a rich culture shaped by unique song, dance, language and social structure.
One of the most significant events to occur in Maori/British history was the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. Essentially the treaty was an agreement between Maori and the British to cohabitate in New Zealand, but unfortunately existing land ownership by Maori was overlooked. Fast-forward to the 1970's and New Zealand saw the first of many land claims go through the court of law, repatriating land to traditional Maori communities.
The importance of this period in New Zealand's history cannot be overstated since it gave rise to many Maori entities that managed these assets on behalf of their respective iwi.
The Tohu Wine company was born out of the mutual vision of three such Maori entities: Wakatu Incorporation, NRAIT and Wi Pere Trust.
Wakatu Incorporation — In 1977 Wakatu Incorporation was formed. Its primary function was to act on behalf of its iwi (tribe), including land claims and increasing the value of the corporations' holding through commercial enterprise. Today Wakatu Incorporation is a business of the land and sea he Taonga tuku iho. It is involved in a vast array of industries such as commercial property, land development, horticulture, seafood, forestry and viticulture.
Wakatu Incorporation has 3,200 Maori shareholders, direct descendants of the chiefs and families that occupied the Nelson and Marlborough region. Investing in the future is imperative for the on-going success of Wakatu and for this reason Wakatu offers an array of scholarships to its Whanau (family) including education. It is hoped that the skills gained by its scholarship recipients will one day be utilised within Wakatu Incorporation.
Today Maori people account for approximately 15% of New Zealand's population and are a vital part of our country's national identity.
By producing quality wines and utilising indigenous resources, Tohu is a vehicle to promote Maori culture both at home and overseas.