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Māori-owned beverage firm Kaitahi harnesses benefits of native ingredients

New Zealand Māori-owned business, Kaitahi As One, has been awarded $54,000 in research funding from High-Value Nutrition (HVN) National Science Challenge for its award-winning novel beverage using native taonga species.

The frozen beverage is called “Kaitahi”, a blend of fruits, greens, seeds, and traditional Māori ingredients like kūmara (one of the most concentrated sources of carbs of any vegetable), pūhā (a staple green vegetable in Māori cuisine), kawakawa (an aromatic plant with medicinal qualities), and rewarewa honey (from the native New Zealand honeysuckle tree, whose nectar was collected by traditional Māori as a natural sweetener). The mixture is then snap-frozen into droplets, packed into pouches and ready to be shaken into a smoothie.

Through the funding from HVN, Kaitahi will be able to research its product line’s nutrient composition, validate bioactive components present in indigenous ingredients, and garner nutritional or functional health claims.

“We are using traditional Māori ingredients, and it is a great honour and recognition of our team for the mahi to see what we are accomplishing and to see how our HVN grant is providing an iwi business the opportunity to move to the next stage of growth,” said Arohaina Owen, Kaitahi Working Group leader.

The research project will be conducted through close collaboration with the Riddet Institute Centre of Research Excellence at Massey University and consulting organisation Smart Regulatory Solutions.

Kaitahi is available for purchase in Aotearoa New Zealand’s major supermarkets.

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