Hikurangi Hemp co-founder Panapa Ehau joins Wendyl Nissen on The Long Lunch and is embracing the opportunity to employ people with drug convictions within the burgeoning medical marijuana company.
Mr Ehau and business partner Manu Caddie believe it makes sense for those who have experience growing marijuana, some of whom have criminal convictions for doing so, to work at Hikurangi Hemp, which has pulled 5000 metre high hemp plants from the Ihungia Station property.
"We're pushing for people who have convictions for growing or supplying drugs, who are the real experts to be allowed to work within the [regulated] industry," says Mr Ehau.
Hikurangi Hemp are now in their second year of growing hemp, a low THC variety of cannabis.
Mr Ehau says there is a positive shift happening within the regulatory environment in New Zealand, and he's proud that the people of Ruatoria are at the forefront of the movement.
"The biggest part within the local community is that it's an option for whanau to use their land and farm space."
The company is about to do its capital raise, where locals and other investors from around the country can become part of the Hikurangi Hemp story.
Mr Ehau says the company has signed a $160 million letter of intent with a partner in the United States and the medical marijuana industry in New Zealand could ultimately grow to be worth $1 million a year.
Should the medicinal marijuana industry be given the green light in New Zealand, Hikurangi Hemp expect to employ around 160 locals within the next two years.
Listen to the full interview with Panapa Eha above.
The Long Lunch with Wendyl Nissen, 12pm - 3pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.
Correction: The original story indicated that convicts would be given a second chance. This has since been ammended to people with convictions.