Launching the Co-operapig Enterprise

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At the Cook Islands Development Agency New Zealand (CIDANZ) we have been working alongside Cook Islands and Pacific families over the past 10 years to help them harness an enterprising spirit that lifts them and their communities, while providing a measure of financial sustainability to realise their dreams.

On June 18th, with the support of Pacific Business Trust, 17 Pacific families came together to launch the very first Pacific Cooperative at the Pasifika Social Enterprise Symposium. The story behind the Cooperapig – a Cooperative ‘Pig’ Enterprise – started with a conversation between community friends. One, a landowner, desiring to utilise her land assets to support community-led development; another, a Cook Islands woman leader; and an enterprising Tongan business woman, who happened to know of family members who could no longer travel everyday from Manurewa to Hobsonville to care for their 50 plus pigs.

These community women pooled their various resources, intelligence, connections and capacities in just under three weeks to give a new home to as many of the pigs as could be caught and transported. They rallied their communities to establish a cooperation among 19 (and growing) families to re-fence a paddock, build shelters and establish a daily pig care and feeding roster for 15 weaners and 5 sows, three of whom we found out were pregnant when we got them on-site.

The vision of the Co-operapig is to enable families and Cooperative members to make a contribution, work with other families, reconnect with the land, learn new skills and knowledge, rather than just consume, and benefit from eating and gifting a cheaper price of pork that they themselves own and have loved and cared for. New Zealand urban lifestyles means that our families are fast losing the connection to the land and nature. Our traditional knowledge about where food comes from, environmental awareness, and an understanding of what it takes to grow and produce food that is healthy in all ways is not being passed down to our children. We want to change all of that with pigs.

Its business model is based on a recognition that we are a mixed group of people from different backgrounds, professions and experiences, and the richness of our shared knowledge, skills and resources we all contribute and commit as individuals to the pigs and one another makes this work fun and rewarding in so many ways. It is a strengths-based or asset-based approach that starts from a place of where people know something (whether about pigs, animal husbandry and welfare, trades, self-sufficient lifestyles, finance, law, environmental management, supply chains, council and industry rules and regulations, and so on) that they can contribute to the development and success of the Cooperapig. This provides a platform they are happy to occupy because they have experience and confidence in themselves as individuals and what they bring to the Cooperapig – our pigs, our member families, and our wider communities.

The Co-operapig is only three months old, and a great example of enterprising communities. For more information on the Co-operapig, contact us at janet@cidanz.co.nz.