Matakana Island, located in the western Bay of Plenty in New Zealand’s North Island, got permission to grow medical cannabis. The island is populated by Māori tribes that are mostly associated with Ngai Te Rangi. Working with the Island community, Ngā Whenua Rahui, DOC, and the local councils have developed a significant native plant nursery and replanted large areas of wetlands and swamps.
Participants of one of the country’s most fascinating islands has just received a license to grow medical cannabis in the New Zealand cannabis industry.
Cultivated outdoors in the Matakana Island sunshine, Mahana Island Therapies will be one of the only legal and naturally grown cannabis products of its kind in the world.
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Matakana Island has ideal growing conditions for the New Zealand cannabis industry
Matakana is a narrow, 28 kilometre-long sandbar at the head of the Tauranga harbor in the Bay of Plenty.
Renowned for its unique geology, history, and ecology, the island’s main industries are forestry, dairy farming, kiwifruit, and other horticultural activities. Famous for its beautiful surf beach, the island is home to approximately 200 permanent residents.
Working in partnership with Eqalis, a Katikati-based medical cannabis company, Mahana Island Therapies was created with the goal of transforming the New Zealand cannabis industry by turning Matakana Island’s ideal growing conditions into a thriving horticultural industry offering future opportunities for local residents.
The development of a new business model for the New Zealand cannabis industry
Jason Murray and Aimee Armstrong, the heads of Mahana Island Therapies, are committed to developing a unique business model largely based on Tikanga values.
They enter the New Zealand cannabis industry using age-old concepts from Rongoā (traditional Maori medicine). They intend to grow and manufacture a range of high-quality healing products to improve the health and quality of life of New Zealanders suffering from chronic disease and pain.
“We see this as our chance to achieve real gains for our people, a way to effectively use our ancestral lands to provide meaningful employment opportunities for our people and increase the health of our island community,” said Murray.
Located at the mouth of the port of Tauranga, the island of Matakana has a unique microclimate with high hours of sunshine and rich soils for horticultural industries.
Mahana means warmth in Maori and the name Mahana Island Therapies reflects the connection that whānau has with the land and its people.
Cannabis business brings positive development on the island
Murray and Armstrong have already made their mark on Matakana with a long project to regenerate the island’s natural flora and fauna.
Ngā Whenua Rahui, DOC and local councils have developed a large native plant nursery and replanted substantial areas of wetlands and swamps.
With Murray’s background in biochemistry and marine biology and Armstrong’s degree in Maori development and geography, both are a tremendous force for positive and practical horticultural development on Matakana Island.
Mahana Island and Eqalis partnership
“Our products are the perfect blend of our past, present, and future. By combining our community with high-level science, we are creating a new way for our people, sharing knowledge with future generations and fulfilling our role as the kaitiaki of our land,” explained Murray.
The partnership between Mahana Island Therapies and Eqalis has enabled the the pair to significantly advance their operation.
Eqalis holds two licenses to grow medical cannabis and has partnered with some of New Zealand’s cannabis industry’s most experienced horticulturists, scientists, and medical specialists.
Their collective experience and the research support of Eqalis’ pharmacy expert, Elizabeth Plant, were at the core of the creation of Mahana Island Therapies.
New partnership brings hope for a thriving New Zealand cannabis industry
Eqalis General Manager, Greg Misson, said the partnership between Mahana Island Therapies and Eqalis was a natural choice.
“From the very beginning of Eqalis’ creation, we recognized the importance of working with people whose values, goals and motivations were closely linked to our own. Jason and Aimee embody Eqalis’ goals of developing a culture of transparency, determination, and innovation,” he added. “Eqalis and Mahana Island Therapies are both positioned to bring a full range of high-quality herbal healing products to a large number of Kiwis currently struggling with pain in our communities.”
Most New Zealanders support the medical cannabis reform, with the Sapere Research Institute reporting that one in five suffer from chronic pain and nearly a quarter of a million New Zealanders take painkillers on a regular basis.
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