Whakaari Enterprises, a local medicinal cannabis company, hosted local dignitaries, international and domestic industry leaders and approximately 30 members of the local community at its first information session on Friday 1st February.

The community information session was designed to introduce and inform the local community about Whakaari Enterprises’ position within the medicinal cannabis industry and to provide the opportunity for questions from the community to be answered.

Delegates heard from Henare Gage, co-founder of Whakaari Enterprises and team mate Jo Spod, covering the company’s background to date. 

Gage said the turn out for the first information session was encouraging and demonstrated a wide interest in the emerging medicinal cannabis industry. 

“It was great to see a mix of people with varying interests, expertise, insights and perspectives show up on the day to learn more, add to the discussions and raise some questions. All of the whakaaro (ideas and thoughts) and patai (questions) raised were hugely valuable and encouraging to us as a team,” said Gage.

Tamati Coffey, MP for Waiariki, spoke about the government’s progress on legislation and regulatory change centered around medicinal cannabis, ahead of the scheduled referendum on the use of recreational cannabis, happening in 2020. 

 “Our Government is opening the door for opportunities in the area of medicinal cannabis for terminal illnesses and for those in palliative care who may choose to take that option for pain relief. 

We will have an agency set up by the end of the year to regulate this industry and conversations like the ones being had by Whakaari Enterprises are key to unlocking opportunities in the EBOP economy,” said MP Tamati Coffey.


PHOTO CREDIT: Shallow Focus Photography of Cannabis Plant

Mayor Tony Bonne, of Whakatane District, was also in attendance.

The delegates then turned their focus to Jonathon Araujo Redbird, of European and Odawa Ojibway descent from the Pontiac Group and based in Toronto, Canada. The Pontiac Group is a socioeconomic development team of indigenous venture builders and corporate outreach specialists. 

Redbird spoke via Skype about the journey of working with First Nation communities in Canada, their dealings with global financial institutions, the Indigenous Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and big businesses controlling the cannabis industry.

“We must focus on developing our people and creating wealth utilising business and land.  Our people were always entrepreneurs, jobs are a new thing.  Our most recent project, the Indigenous Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship will be a Global Indigenous Commerce Platform to trade amongst each other, Indigenous to Indigenous,” said Redbird.

Panapa Ehau from Hikurangi Enterprises, and as a leading domestic industry advocate, also spoke at the information session, sharing his insights into what has worked for Hikurangi Enterprises and its local community of Ruatoria.

Ehau believes in the importance of always placing the wellbeing of the people and the land at the core of all operations. 


Photo caption: (From left) Briton Williams representing Ake Innovations; Henare Gage, co-founder of Whakaari Enterprises; and Panapa Ehau of Hikurangi Enterprises.

“There is a very unique opportunity within the emerging legal cannabis industry to have the 
benefits spread and anchored in the provinces. If legislation and regulations are created right, the benefits can be focused on unlocking under-utilised land and human resource which will have the flow on effect of increasing the wellbeing of people and areas of land that most need it, which will have positive ramifications for the country as a whole,” said Ehau.

Gage goes on to say that this is in line with Whakaari Enterprises’ overarching focus, it’s kaupapa. 

“We will be providing high quality medicinal cannabis, utilising local tikanga* and matauranga Maori* and will provide employment opportunities for our community. With the support of Ake Innovation, we are developing relationships with indigenous based cannabis companies in New Zealand and overseas including Hikurangi Enterprises and the First Nations peoples of the Pontiac Group. This will set us apart in the global medicinal cannabis market.” 

“We really appreciate and value the support, advice and time that Panapa and the Hikurangi Enterprises team and Jonathon from the Pontiac Group have given us and we look forward to working with these kaupapa-based organisations as we all strive to provide long-term sustainable opportunities for the people of our communities and for our land.”


“What Friday’s information session also showed us is that there is big support for what we are doing amongst our community. We are now working on plans to host more community information sessions throughout our community and at different times of the day to cater to interest levels.”

“These community information sessions will also be part of wider activities leading up to a public launch and crowd-funding for Whakaari Enterprises later this year,” said Gage. 

The next hui will be held on Saturday 2nd March 2019, at Rangitihi Marae (Marae Lane, Matata), commencing with a powhiri at 1.30pm and presentations and discussions taking place from 2pm – 4pm. The hui will include discussions about the cannabis industry as well as crowd funding investment optio
Shallow Focus Photography of Cannabis Plant ns and it is open to all. 

To keep up to date with Whakaari Enterprises, check out https://www.facebook.com/whakaarienterprises/