Secret East Coast hemp crop a resounding success
A Government-approved industrial hemp crop near Gisborne has proven to be a resounding success.
The climate and hot weather in the region is perfect for growing the plant, opening up a world of opportunities for local families.
The crop lies not far from Ruatoria, but its exact location is a secret.
Some of the plants are already close to two metres high, and they've only been growing since the middle of December.
Panapa Ehau heads the Hikurangi Enterprises charitable trust, looking at ways to better utilise land in the region.
He said the crop is thriving in the hot temperatures of the region.
"In the last week, or 10 days, it's really bolted. We've seen kind of like 300 percent growth."
Industrial hemp looks and smells just like marijuana but it's extremely low in THC - the chemical that gives marijuana its psychoactive properties.
At harvesting, if any of these plants show levels of THC higher than 0.35 percent, the entire crop will be destroyed and with it a raft of business opportunities.
Hemp can be used to make building and plumbing supplies, clothes and even food, and it's legal.
"It's possible as an alternative for whanau to create an income from their land while also increasing the health of their land," Mr Ehau explained.
"A common misconception about industrial hemp is that it can be used to get high. In fact that's nearly impossible; you'd need to smoke a joint the size of a powerpole using this entire crop for that to happen."
In a few weeks' time, the crop will be ready to harvest.
Only then will Mr Ehau reveal its location, inviting locals to take part and join the industrial hemp revolution.