NUKU ki te Puku in Singapore

Author: Vivienne Hunt

Nuku ki te Puku
Nuku ki te Puku
Nuku ki te Puku
Nuku ki te Puku
Nuku ki te Puku
nuku ki te puku

In 2018, a group of Māori Entrepreneurs collaborated with scientists, investors, marketers and horticulturalists to establish a new venture, NUKU ki te PukuTM, which focuses on the development of innovative nutrition solutions supported by health claims. This followed their 2015 attendance at Stanford University, where they experienced first-hand the University’s Design School and world-leading innovator’s hub.


Board Member, Wayne Mulligan, CEO of Fomana Capital (corporate member of the NZ Chamber Singapore), says the group has been formed to create new nutrition that is healthy and generates high value. The mission is to make a difference and sustainably meet the growing global needs for nutrition and health within target markets in Asia.  After formally launching March 2018 in Wellington, the "Nukus" partnered with the NZ High-Value Nutrition, National Science Challenge on a $1m project.  The aim is to prototype how Māori businesses and New Zealand’s top researchers can share science and cultural expertise to collaborate on the development of new food and health products for export. The Nuku ki te Puku business cluster has been working with the outcomes of this work to translate the research into high-value food products for commercialisation.


Since the launch of the "Nukus"in 2018, which included a signed MOU with A*STAR, a series of workshops and meetings with key researchers have been held in Singapore.


Follow up Workshops May 2019

Recent workshops held 21-22 May 2019 within the Singapore research ecosystem included researchers from New Zealand Crown Research Institutes, Plant & Foods, Ag Research, the University of Auckland and Massey University, together with members of Nuku ki te Puku.  The goal of these workshops was to develop partnerships in Singapore with the first being held at the Philips Design APAC Centre (thanks to Nicholas Lee, VP Personal Health Leader at Philips, who is also a kiwi). This workshop included Singapore representatives from Fonterra and Zespri and focused on consumer insights.  The second day was held at A*STAR where scientists and researchers focused on clinical trial design, skin research and screening assays to check New Zealand ingredients for health and nutrition benefits.

Why it this work important?

Research on the prevalence of diabetes, metabolic and pollution linked disease shows Asian consumers are increasingly looking for nutrition that will support their health and wellness. Whether it’s a low GI food snack to help manage prediabetes, an antioxidant berry shot which can help protect the lungs, a food supplement supporting digestion or a solution to address skin ailments such as eczema or rosacea, the Nuku ki te Puku collective will draw on Māori traditional knowledge to co-develop and design products that meet their needs.

Trial Outcomes

A new prototype developed by the "Nukus" is a plant-based product that meets nutrient content regulations within New Zealand and China for higher protein, lower carbohydrate and a lower glycaemic index snack food ingredients will be grown and produced in New Zealand.  Clinical trials recently held in New Zealand have already demonstrated the potential for making a health claim.

Economic Outcomes

As populations age, the cost of health care is growing exponentially.  Products designed as foods that can support health and wellness will increasingly be sought after by consumers seeking to optimise their health over their lifetimes.