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Mar 21, 2016

Kaipara Kumara chip success story

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Kaipara is known as the kumara capital of the country so when Ruawai College students discovered the only kumara chips for sale in their local supermarket were from China, they decided to do something about it.

"Kumara is quite an important part of Kaipara," said 17-year-old student Laura Blundell.

The group of 12 students from Ruawai College set up business Keeping it K as part of the Young Enterprise Scheme, a programme where high school students have to set up and run a real business.

"The only kumara chips sold in the Kaipara were from China. We thought it would be better if they were locally produced," Ms Blundell said.

"We were angry, we are the kumara capital so for us we wanted to sell what was locally grown."

The group did market research and product testing and were able to prove there was a market for the chips.

Ms Blundell, who is the communications manager for Keeping it K, said she knew local company Kaipara Kumara, which her father owns, supplied Kumara to Nelson company Proper Crisps to make kumara chips.

"We contacted Proper Crisps and they supplied the first box free and we started selling them locally," she said.

Following that the group purchased more boxes of 40g and 150g packs of Proper Kumara Crisps which they sold to local service stations and started selling in the school's tuck shop and at markets. The chips are also sold at the local supermarket.

"For us it was important to sell them in schools because it was about the kids and about 90 per cent of all kids we interviewed said they loved them."

The idea won them the He Kai Kei Aku Ringa award from Te Tumu Paeroa, Te Puni Kokiri, Te Ohu Kaimoana, Maori Tourism and Careers NZ.

Ms Blundell said Keeping it K will not be continuing this year because some students were in different classes.

"It would be cool to have our own Kaipara kumara crisps but that's a big project. We've learnt a lot about business, planning and the whole idea of being local - it's been awesome."

- Northern Advocate