Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, are tangata whenua (people of the land) of central Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland and Whai Māia is a charitable entity responsible for the social and cultural development of its people.
With a focus on whānau outcomes, Whai Māia manage a large number of programmes, covering health, education, small business, and employment, along with running some external contracts with government and local council that help support their mahi.
Recently Whai Māia approached PrimeHort to discuss how automation could benefit their plant nursery operations in Remuera. Pourewa Nursery was established in June 2020 with an ethos of protecting and enhancing the plant collection in the Tāmaki catchment. These activities help support Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei in their role as educator and guardian of knowledge for research around kaitiakitanga (safeguarding our future).
Rob Small is the Gardens Curator at Pourewa Nursery, and he recently approached PrimeHort to explore ways in which automation could help the nursery reach its full potential. There were several goals, but primarily greater control over the nursery process from ‘seed to plant sale’ was number one, along with using staff labour more productively. Kaitiaki (guardianship) of the plants growing naturally in the Tamaki catchment and keeping that gene pool thriving will be easier through the uniformity and speed of automation.
Working in a modern, forward-thinking nursery is also hugely beneficial for the staff at Pourewa. Many are studying through Primary ITOs while they work, so ‘real world’ mechanisation helps bring their studies to life, while highlighting the possibilities in the industry.
Pourewa Nursery currently produce 300,000 native plants per annum and automation will expand these efforts tremendously. For an initial investment of circa $100k, production could increase approx. 200 percent, with the added payback of greater control, quality and freedom to broaden business initiatives.
Onsite at Pourewa and about to be fired-up is an exciting suite of DaRos nursery equipment. Starting with a Trayfiller RC7 which homogenously fills the nursery trays and pots and feeds them into a Needle Seeder LS7-3. At the touch of a button on the control panel staff can select quantity of seeds per hole, seeding speed and number of trays to seed. The kit also includes a Watering Machine which eliminates overwatering and ‘drowning’ of plants (as can happen when manually watering).
Installation of the gear took place in just a day and staff training is the next step – again a very simple process. Rob said he enjoys working with Joel from PrimeHort who is an expert in his field, “he’s very cooperative and helpful.”
Keeping the Tāmaki plant collection alive and flourishing runs deeper than fancy gear – it’s whakapapa to Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, and with the right tools, tradition can mix with modern machinery for an outstanding result.
Congrats Pourewa Nursery – we can’t wait to follow your progress!
For advice on plant nursery automation, get in touch with PrimeHort today.