The value of bringing experts on board - Kaitahi As One


22 April 2021

Kaitahi As One Smoothy drops

The Kaitahi effect

New products come to market for all sorts of reasons; but one novel product is more about being part of a solution – providing healthy kai, jobs for the iwi and a pathway into the future for the tamariki of New Zealand.

Lovingly referred to as the Kaitahi effect, the Ngaa Rauru Kiitahi iwi started the Kaitahi As One brand several years ago to provide work for its people. The first product it launched, which has been incredibly successful to date, was its frozen smoothy drops.

There is so much we could tell you about this incredible product and the company behind it – how it won the Fine Food New Zealand Innovation Awards, was awarded a major Provincial Growth Fund injection to build a manufacturing factory, the High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge win of another cash injection and most recently, how its smoothy drops were awarded one of the two top accolades at the FoodStarter competition, ensuring its product is further supported to take pride of place on every New World supermarket shelf in New Zealand.

We could talk about all that, but this is about how such a successful startup takes indigenous ingredients and creates a food worthy of all these accolades. Iwi working group lead, Arohania Owen says building strong relationships, tapping into the right expertise and being very clear about your ‘why’ are the keys.

As Kaitahi As One continue to explore and develop new product lines, new flavours and innovative ways to utilise ingredients sourced from the heart of New Zealand – the land; the FoodPilot team, based at Massey University continues to play a pivotal role.

“There is no word other than amazing for what they have been able to do for us,” says Arohaina. “We are all new to food manufacturing, so we have so many questions. In fact, we didn’t even know what all the words were in this business! We had an idea, so the learning curve to make it real and get a product onto shelves was immense. The team at FoodPilot explained everything and went well beyond what we had anticipated. They took us patiently through all the technicalities and have come up with incredible solutions to every challenge.”

Research and development for a number of new products and flavours continues at FoodPilot and the fruit of these labours is currently in market testing and are expected to hit the shelves later this year.

“We are so proud that through our brand, we are able to bring some old Māori traditions into the modern world and deliver a product which bolsters health outcomes through good nutrition and provides jobs in our small community.”

It’s the broader dream that keep the Kaitahi As One team performing at exceptional levels, but they also know that the greater the expertise you pull into help – the better the outcome will be.

From everyone at the New Zealand Food Innovation Network, we congratulate you and are proud to be part of the engine powering this inspirational business.

Kaitahi As One Working Group Lead, Arohaina Owen says (right), “The calibre of the finalists was mind blowing and we’re so humbled to be recognised in this way. The wairua of Kaitahi will go to the next level with the help of the FoodStarter partners, the ‘Kaitahi effect’ has really come to life and we can’t wait to get going.” Also pictured: Pania Winterburn