A group of St. John’s College boys have come second in a Young Enterprise Scheme competition that saw them develop drought-resistant seeds that use 30 per cent less water.
The achievement comes after a number of setbacks which resulted in certain varieties of seeds destroyed when a shelf collapsed during the development stage last year, and shipping delays due to Covid-19 this year.
Te Tuitui Mātauranga, made up of Brad Campbell, Louis Gaffaney, Marcus Ambrose and 2019 member, Kupa Pohe, came second place for the Te Arahanga Primary Industries Award for their product, ‘Āwhina Seeds’.
The Te Arahanga Primary Industries Award is awarded to the YES business whose product or service best relates to food and fibre, focuses on sustainability or protecting Aotearoa from harmful pests and diseases, and can make a positive impact on the primary sector.
Head of YES Elizabeth Pittman said the award is judged nationally and out of almost 1000 YES businesses in operation this year Te Tuitui Matauranga placed second.
She said the judges were thoroughly impressed with the team’s draught tolerant seeds and their mission to protect the horticulture industry with sustainable innovative solutions.
Te Tuitui Mātauranga, which means the ‘binding of knowledge’ is the school’s first te reo Māori-based social enterprise team.
Working with Plant and Food Research and PGG Wrightson Seeds, the students began their journey by embracing Te Ao Maori worldview of Kiatiakitanga (guardianship) of the natural freshwater resources of Aotearoa.
“Wai (water) is the essence of all life and the world’s most precious resource. It’s of high importance to Māori, and it is the life-giver of all things, a precious taonga (treasure), part of our whakapapa (genealogy), part of our identity,” the directors said.
Louis, who is currently in year 12, said they are “concerned with our environment, natural resources, climate change, food chain integrity and maximising the return from the land in a sustainable way using innovative technology”.
Their product has shown promising results for the agricultural industry in climactically challenging environments.
They began at the start of 2019 and had trials for about six months, where they tested 168 bean and pea seeds in different solutions and concentration levels.
These seeds were then planted and watered at 100 per cent, 70 per cent, and 50 per cent of what they would usually require to survive.
While their bean plants were severely damaged after the shelf collapsed, they were able to salvage the pea plants.
PHOTO: Te Tuitui Mātauranga made up of Kupa Pohe (left), Marcus Ambrose, Louis Gaffaney, and Brad Campbell came second place for the Te Arahanga Primary Industries Award for their product, ‘Āwhina Seeds’.