Nurturing the world: Dairying with a difference

Miraka is a dairy company with a difference. It is the only one in the world that uses geo-thermal steam to power its plant. It also uses a worm farm to help get rid of waste.

Richard Wyeth is the chief executive and he says Miraka has a real point of difference in the industry.

"We have a full, closed-loop recycling system, which is reasonably unique in the New Zealand dairy sector. The other thing that is unique about Miraka is that we are predominantly Maori-owned, so 80 percent of our shareholders are Maori trust corporations."

Ngati Tuwharetoa and Ngati Kahungunu own most of the company, and their principles form the blueprint for the way business is done.

"Our vision, which is nurturing our world -- and our shareholders really do want to nurture our world -- we are the kaitiaki, or the guardian of our natural resources. Within our logo we have representations of ranginui and papatuanuku, and it's important that we look after rangi and papa to provide us with the right products that we can then take to the rest of the world and nurture our consumers," Mr Wyeth says.

Miraka started operating in 2010 and in that time it's generated more than $800 million in revenue.

Dairy farmer Mark Coppard started supplying Miraka about five years ago.

"Well definitely Miraka -- they give us a bit of a premium to supply them. We don't have to own shares, which is a big thing; it's quite a high cost if you're with Fonterra. So it is easier."

And this year it could get better if suppliers meet certain criteria. Mr Wyeth says Miraka will give them a bonus.

"That's around providing farmers the incentive, not just to be good around their environment but to make sure they look after their staff, make sure they look after animals and make sure they look after themselves in terms of being prosperous, and they also have to provide us with good quality milk."

For Miraka there is no dilemma between the economy and the environment. It's managed to make money out of dairying while reducing its impact on the natural world.