The Hemp New Zealand™ Story
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Hemp New Zealand™ began with a handful of seeds, and a very big dream. A dream to build a vibrant hemp industry in New Zealand. We are on a continual journey to supply you with beneficial hemp products that are delicious, nutritious, chemical-free and that care for you, your family and our precious world. Working passionately with individuals, industries, universities and businesses to grow, process and utilize hemp into everyday products, ranging from virgin cold-pressed hemp seed oil to fibre for building, insulation, plastics and many items that we rely on so heavily today.
A Seed Is Planted - Part 1, Our Story
The Early Years 2008 – 2017
Dave & Anne Jordan are change-makers and the inspiring, farsighted founders of Hemp New Zealand™ Ltd. Their mission? To create a pristine environment for the health and wellbeing of all life. This is part one of their story.
At first glance, you might think Dave and Anne Jordan are the quintessential Kiwi success story. Their flourishing parent company Hemp New Zealand Ltd. was registered in 2009 by Dave, and Hemp Farm® was founded by the couple along with Anne’s son Harley in 2011. The company operates their own grower program and processes seed products at their facility in Tauranga which are marketed through their Hemp Farm® brand. Their hemp fibre is processed into hemp and hemp/wool products at their Christchurch facility, in partnership with NZ Natural Fibres. The combination enables them to supply a broad spectrum of industrial hemp to the nation. Indeed, Hemp Farm® has come along way since its creation and Dave and Anne’s journey has been one of sacrifice and tenacity built on a foundation of altruism and environmentalism.
A Vision For The Future
“The plan has always been to clean up the environment,” says UK-born Anne. “That was definitely the reasoning behind growing industrial hemp in the first place, we wanted to turn around the degradation of the land,” agrees Dave. “Sprays and products made from petrochemicals are destroying our oceans, rivers and the land so the idea was to create a plant-based economy led by industrial hemp.”
Dave says they’re not environmentalists as such. “However, it’s not hard to see that the disturbing state of the environment needed a call to action – we need change,” he says.
Why Industrial Hemp?
Industrial hemp comes from the Cannabis sativa L plant and it can feed us, clothe us and house us. A staple crop for early humankind it was one of the first fibres to be spun over 10,000 years ago. It’s still a fairly fledgling 21st Century industry because it was demonised in the 1930s – due to confusion with its cousin marijuana – and until recently was illegal in many places. Industrial hemp offers potent health benefits for both humans and animals along with fibre that can be used across industry for textiles, eco plastics and the building industry. And then there’s the earth itself. Cultivating the plant decreases pollution by sequestering carbon from the atmosphere and reverses environmental damage by providing soil remediation.
Propelled By Adventure Tourism
Dave’s love for adventure sports and the outdoors combined with an innate entrepreneurial spirit saw him establish White Water Adventure Tours in 1980. The rafting industry subsequently led him to many countries and in winters he worked as a ski patroller. After returning home after six years abroad he founded the Guiding Company of Franz Josef Glacier. Over the following decade, he took tourists onto the glacier in a combination of heli hikes, ice climbing, and half-day and full-day hikes. Spending his days guiding unsullied glaciers or rafting crystal clear waters he was struck by the marked change whenever he crossed the line from wilderness into human/commercial populated activity zones. “We’d come out of that natural environment where there’s no rubbish – not even a bottle top – and into heavily populated areas, roads and/or intensive farming and it was like entering a whole new world. The line between nature and the result of humanisation is clearly visible,” he says.
A Seed Is Planted
The notion of industrial hemp had been planted by Dave’s brother, Bruce. “We were having a casual conversation when he asked me if I knew anything about industrial hemp,” says Dave. “When I told him no, he replied ‘learn’. He’s a very knowledgeable guy and I’ve always had a lot of respect for him so I took note, but it wasn’t until years afterwards that I began my research into the subject.”
Dave sold The Guiding Company of Franz Josef business and moved to Taupo spending a winter taking people through the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. “I purchased a beautiful old boat that ran on diesel, so I started looking into plant-based fuels,” he says. “Industrial hemp came up again and I thought ‘omg, industrial hemp is amazing, so many uses!’”
In 2008 Dave met a guy who was looking into industrial hemp as an alternative fuel and they planted an acre together in the Hawkes Bay. “Cultivation only became legal here in 2006 so it was all pretty new,” says Dave. “Generations back there was an opportunity for the petrochemical world to go plant-based and some massive companies like Ford began utilising it but it was effectively shut down by the petrochemical industry. My co-cultivator wanted to pursue that but I’d become interested in industrial hemp’s million other uses so we parted ways. I didn’t want to take on the fuel giants when there were so many other good applications for hemp.”
Taking the seeds he’d harvested Dave began looking for land. “By then it was 2011 and my plan was to get growers on board so that we could dive deeper into learning about how to grow industrial hemp,” he says. “It was challenging in the early days to find land to grow on.” Fortuitously an agricultural contractor got in touch with Dave to say he knew of some land that a farmer had available to lease. “And that was when we grew 12 hectares in Maungatautiri (near Karapiro),” says Dave.
Ironically, it was Tourism New Zealand’s 100% Pure marketing campaign that formed the impetus for Dave to exit the adventure tourism industry. “I was invited to the launch and was pretty disgusted,” he says. “I thought it was rubbish; it was misleading and it wasn’t telling the truth about New Zealand. So I stood up and said, ‘this is a bad idea, you’re telling a lie to the world and the world is going to find out’. They basically told me where the door was if I didn’t like it. We’ve been called out on that campaign by the rest of the world now but it was then that I realised I needed to sell the tourism business and take some action.”
A Shared Vision
Crushed dreams aside Dave and Anne ‘clicked’. “Anne and I discussed that bringing the idea to life wouldn’t be easy and that there needed to be a huge industry to make an impact,” Dave says. “The buy-in was pretty daunting, we needed to grow it as an agricultural sector and get manufacturers and consumers on board”.
“I’d been interested in health and wellbeing ever since I was a young girl,” says Anne, who was a professional dancer in her 20s. “I became a vegetarian in 1979, largely for animal welfare reasons, however I wanted to eat more cleanly and that meant removing processed ‘food’ from my diet. Basically if it wasn’t grown by nature, I avoided it. In the 1970s in Britain, if you were a vegetarian, you were a “crank” – a weirdo. In fact, a restaurant was opened in London with that very name, “Cranks”, along with what became a global bestselling plant-based book. I realised straight away that Dave’s vision for a vibrant hemp industry resonated with me and I was excited to get on board. We rented a house together, leased the land and from then on it was industrial hemp, industrial hemp, industrial hemp, 24 hours per day, seven days a week.”
Sowing The Fields
The couple had a contractor plant the seed on their 12 hectares with a focus of growing fibre for industry. “There are a few varieties of industrial hemp plants,” says Anne. “The shorter ones are preferred for food, the taller for producing fibre for textiles, construction and many other industries. We were growing the tall variety. We knew the seed and the food side was incredibly valuable as a superfood however back then we prioritised growing a tall crop to provide fibre for eco-plastics, textiles, building materials and insulation. It was our mission to get the fibre side mastered alongside food and to develop the right equipment to not only harvest but to process the industrial hemp for both fibre and hurd (hurd being the woody core of the stalk).”
“The goal was always whole plant utilisation, we knew it was going to be the biggest industry on the planet and that you could make every consumer product from it,” says Dave.
“We actually weeded that first crop by hand,” says Anne. “A farmer suggested we fly over and spray but with the help of volunteers we used push hoes every day for three months to manually weed.”
“We contracted a Waikato company to harvest the crop,” says Dave. “We broke the combine several times because the industrial hemp plant fibre is so strong, the fibre would wrap around the machinery and break it, bending steel rods and damaging the equipment to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. We always managed to get the seed off though; seed lasts for about three years depending on how it’s stored, after that it begins to lose viability and will go rancid.”
The equipment presented a huge challenge and Dave and Anne realised they were going to need dedicated harvesters to get the tall, often four metre plants out of the field. Together with 80 volunteers over four days, they managed to harvest two hectares by pulling the stalks out by hand but to do it for 12 hectares wasn’t feasible. “We knew then that we were on a serious mission to create and master the art of tall crop harvesting for New Zealand,” says Anne
Cultivating industrial hemp plants for fibre meant it was difficult to find a harvester that could work with the taller plants. “This was not only a challenge for us in New Zealand but a worldwide one, the short variety is more straightforward because you can take the seed off the top and then plough the rest back into the land,” says Anne. “But our crops grew several metres high.” The crops weren’t large in the early days, but the initial 12 hectares soon grew to 53 the following year.
Dave and Anne brought in a decorticator from Australia. “It was hand fed and could process industrial hemp fresh from the field and basically strip the fibre from the stalk,” says Anne.
“That first decorticator was brand new technology and the best machine we could get at the time,” says Dave. “The inventor had been working on it for years and we pretty much got the first model out of the box so it was still a test run. It should have been easy, but it turned out not to be the machine we needed because it wasn’t robust enough, and it wasn’t big enough to manufacture on scale.”
The good news was that they ended up with some fibre samples that made it possible to show business and industry what they were producing. “We also milled some of the hurd, which is the woody core of the plant into a powder and Earthpak made some edible plates out of it,” says Anne. “That was fantastic. Even though we’ve moved on since then that machine was state of the art at the time and was featured in the Te Radar show which you can see here.
Canadian Hemp Seed Oil
At the time industrial hemp seed oil was allowed to be sold for humans but other edible industrial hemp foods were only allowed to be sold for animals. “We had a three-year class determination letter from the Ministry for Primary Industries that cleared us to import de-hulled hemp seed and protein powder as feed for animals. In 2018 the food law changed to allow for hemp seed foods to be consumed by humans but at the same time they banned the sale for animals, which has been extremely frustrating and debilitating for the industry,” says Dave.
“There were many days working late into the night or the early hours of the morning and getting up again at the crack of dawn,” says Dave. “I was on the phone all day generating interest and sales, plus growing a wholesale customer base; at night we’d be packing orders in the garage,” says Anne. “People would ask if our oil was from New Zealand and I would tell them that it was Canadian but everything they purchased would go into our growing efforts here, which has been the case. We got our first stockist in 2012, which was the lovely Monica at Naturally Healthy in Hamilton. She welcomed our products into her store and she’s still with us now, which is a wonderful thing.”
A stint at Raglan markets provided the opportunity for the formulation of their Promise skincare. “We knew we wanted to start using the hemp seed oil in skincare products because obviously using it inside and out is the best way to benefit from the health benefits,” says Anne. “So, we needed an expert in essential oil blending to co-create a premium range for us. I heard a young lady talking passionately about essential oils while we were at the Raglan market one weekend. I introduced myself and mentioned we were looking for someone to help us with our skincare. April, a fully trained expert aromatherapist, told me that it was her dream to create skincare and she’s been working with us ever since.”
Learning The Lessons
Dave and Anne decided to reach out to other hemp growers around the world and set out on a journey to Europe, China, England and North America to meet and share ideas and expertise on the growing and harvesting side of the industry. They decided that to take the industry to the size that it needed to be they would need to build substantial infrastructure, create a growers program and invest in state of the art harvesting and processing equipment, which would require substantial capital into the millions of dollars. They set out looking for investment and that was when they met their partners, The Draper family.
Use daily, we do!”
A pristine environment that supports health and well-being of all life.
To educate and further work on areas of research and development through universities, businesses and partners regarding the health benefits of hemp and the high value as a solution to many of the issues we face today.
Continue to expand hemp growers group in all regions while further establishing infrastructure for processing and distribution. Enable industry by supplying bulk hemp seed, fibre and hurd for commercial product manufacturing.
Continue to grow our customer base built on trust and guarantees of quality and service. Be responsible and answerable to the environment as a B Corporation partner.
Hemp New Zealand growth extends to not only their food processing facility but also to the installation of their high-tech fibre processing line for hemp bales.
This facility will produce fibre and hurd which will be on processed into non-woven matting for road ways, wool/hemp yarns for carpets, eco matting, plastics, building materials and more.
This is an exciting time for Hemp and the future.
A Vision For Change - Part 2, Our Story
2017 – 2020
By 2017 The Hemp New Zealand had officially been in business for six years. After a trip overseas to visit other industry leaders, Dave and Anne felt even more confident they were heading in the right direction. “Our business model offers resilience to a growing environmental movement,” says Dave. “Utilising the entire plant for seed and fibre is globally unique.”
Disruptive change was an integral part of the journey and necessary to get the business to where it needed to go. “Those early years were about education, building awareness by getting out there selling products, and talking about the incredible benefits of hemp foods and fibre,” says Dave. “R&D, building relationships in New Zealand and overseas, and further developing our business plan was high priority.”
Hemp NZ™ business plan encompassed massive infrastructure projects around food and fibre production plus industry uptake. “To realise the full extent of the undertaking, it became imperative that we seek substantial capital investment,” says Dave. “Industrial hemp can service every industry, whether it be agriculture, food, textiles, construction, plastic packaging and more.”
The couple continued to build extensive connections through business networks, industry leaders and the wider public. As a result, their unique and innovative business and presence in the marketplace gained momentum and attention prompting interest from equity investors. “We were looking for the ‘right’ people to not only invest but to also understand and back the vision of Hemp NZ™ in its entirety,” says Dave. “After several meetings, I met with Jacob Draper, a young entrepreneurial man whose passion for hemp and the environment was impressive. He introduced me to his family and after sharing our business model, we secured a valuable partnership.”
Hemp NZ™ took on new premises in Tauranga on the 1st January 2019. “We’d been looking for a dedicated food and distribution facility and the perfect property became available – it was certified organic too which was an added bonus,” says Dave. “We set up a cold press and began to process our own home-grown hemp seed oil straight away,” says Anne. “We also began construction of a dehuller to produce hemp hearts, built by a Kiwi engineer, “ adds Dave. “Taking on a new office meant we needed to grow our team as well,” says Anne. “We’re over the moon with the incredibly passionate people we have working with us, we have the BEST crew, and we couldn’t do it without them.”
Hemp Farm® Kiwi Range
Harley’s creative skills again came to the fore for the branding of the homegrown range, ‘Kiwi Hemp’. “It was an intuitive and creative way to incorporate ‘Kiwi’ into the range name, as it clearly and famously represents New Zealand grown,” says Anne. “We now have stockists across New Zealand. As of 2018, it became legal to sell hemp seed foods, such as hearts (de-shelled seeds), milk, protein bars and powders, cereals, cheeses and other foods for human consumption so we’re also supplying our products to many food manufacturers.”
Partnership - Hemp Fibre
The Truth Is In The Results
For People & Planet
“You will see hemp becoming more and more readily available in your everyday life and the products you use,” says Anne. “It’s an industry that is emerging rapidly for all the right reasons, and it certainly has a relevant and important part to play in the plant based economy adds Dave.
“Be the seed of change!”
|2009||Dave Jordan grew one acre of hemp for seed stock. Hemp New Zealand was registered as a company.|
|2010||Dave entered R&D with a German company, Emmzyne Ltd to produce Cellulosic Ethanol and Methanol from hemp|
|2011||Dave, Anne and Harley created the brand Hemp Farm®. Began importing Canadian Hemp seed oil to grow market awareness & build customer base.|
|2012||Purchased a D8 decortication system, from an Australian company. Started up a grower group.|
|2013||Developed a hemp skincare line. Began R&D on worlds first double cut harvesting decorticator|
|2014||Expanded in the hemp grower group, 53 hectares harvested. Obama signs Hemp bill for hemp research|
|2015||Building relationships with universities on hemp plastic and fibre application|
|2016||Extended grower program through the Waikato.|
|2017||Met Draper family, who became partners|
|2018||NZ Hemp Food law changes to allow food for human consumption.|
|2019||Government denies hemp food for animals. Opened Tauriko food processing facility|
|2020||Fibre line installation. Further development of food facility|
Disturbed by the amount of pollution showing up on the land and in the waterways, the founders felt compelled to find a solution. Research led them to discover that hemp is one of the most beneficial plants on earth for cleaning up the soils, air and waterways. Hemp has been an essential part of human culture for over 10,000 years, serving as a nutrient-dense food, medicine, clothing, shelter, and energy source for millions of people across the globe. Hemp NZ™ has been working since 2009 to return hemp to the people, and to allow hemp to be used in all its forms for modern living. Technology has come a long way since hemp’s prohibition, so now the only limit to hemp’s potential is the human imagination.
Dave spent most of his adult life working and guiding on the rivers, glaciers, mountains and bush of New Zealand and overseas. He is absolutely passionate about this incredible environment that we are so lucky to live in. “It is vitally important that we protect this precious environment” says Dave “Hemp as our companion plant is the most environmentally beneficial way to preserve our land and health”.
Anne has a keen interest in health and nutrition. She spent most of her young adult life enjoying dance and theatre, which she still enjoys when she is not out and about talking passionately about her love of Hemp and all the many health benefits. “It is the Optimal balance of those essential omegas 3,6 and 9”, she says, “Your body can’t make it so you need to take it. I have found a huge increase in my energy levels since taking the oil” We are overwhelmed by the daily testimonials from customers finding fantastic improvements in their health and relief from a range of painful health conditions such as arthritis, eczema, psoriasis, blood cholesterol levels and more.”
Harley is co-founder of Hemp Farm®. He created websites, graphics, brand design, photos and videos, along with digital communication systems. His ability to improve and problem solve technical issues in the digital space have been a vital key to our growth. His legacy is etched in the history and heart of HempFarm.
“I was proud to help Hemp Farm® grow as a business and develop into a brand that New Zealanders can be proud of. I would like to see HempFarm become a part of our cultural identity, something that kiwis can use as a vessel for positive change”. Harley 2019