INFORMATION SESSION: Briton Williams, of Ake Innovation, and Henare Gage, of Whakaari Enterprises, are encouraging locals to learn first-hand about this emerging industry. Photo Troy Baker D8026-01

PERHAPS the one trump card held by Awakeri-area medicinal cannabis innovators Whaakari Enterprises is its openness and desire to communicate with the surrounding community.

Wanting to share the potential of the burgeoning medicinal cannabis market, Whakaari Enterprises co-founders Henare and Katie Gage and Whakatane management consultancy Ake Innovation have scheduled a community information session for February 1.

“It will be a great way for locals to hear first-hand about this emerging industry and to hear about potential economic benefits to our communities. This is also an opportunity to learn about government regulations, licensing and clinical trials in place. This will ensure Whakaari Enterprises operation will be positioned to provide the highest quality of medicinal cannabis products to the world,” Mr Gage said.

Leading industry advocate Panapa Ehau of Hikurangi Enterprises will also be available to answer questions related to government and regulatory elements.

With secrecy surrounding many other proposed facilities, because of concern about competitors finding out, community trust has become a concern – effectively associating the already decriminalised medical cannabis industry with the criminality of the substance’s recreational use.

“We know that there is a stigma attached to marijuana. We want to share how what we are doing isn’t related to that and how our kaupapa will benefit the wider community.” Mr Gage said.

READY TO LAUNCH: Briton Williams, Henare Gage, Tristan Vine, Jo Spod, Davina Thompson and Ray Thompson prepare for a community investment and information session. Photo Troy Baker D8026-07

He said the company’s kaupapa, or overarching focus, was “providing high-quality medicinal cannabis, utilising local tikanga (Maori customs and protocols), matauranga Maori (knowledge and skills), and employment opportunities for our community”.

The community information session, limited to the first 50 people to register through, will introduce and inform the community of the company’s position within the medicinal cannabis industry and provide the opportunity for questions.

Mr Gage said with the support of Ake Innovations, they were developing relationships with indigenous-based cannabis companies in New Zealand and overseas including Hikurangi Enterprises and the First Nations peoples of the Pontiac Group.

“This is alongside our key purpose, to ease the unnecessary pain and suffering faced by families affected by illness and disease around the world. This will set us apart in the global medicinal cannabis market,” he said.

He said the opportunity to create sustainable employment around the industry was promising, with many flow-on benefits as well.

“Overseas distributors are screaming out for product. Whakaari Enterprises can provide that high-quality product and we believe that by supporting and working with other indigenous cannabis companies we can strengthen our offering with benefits flowing back into our communities,” he said.