During lockdown in March, nine-year-old Anika Beren with the help of her grandfather collected some native seeds around their Kerikeri, Northland property and grew them into seedlings, with the intention to sell them when they are ready.
Anika decided to name her business, Amuri Gardens, after her grandfather Arthur Beren’s home village on Aitutaki.
Her mum Mignon says Amuri Gardens is named after the road they live on – Amuri Road.
“My father Arthur Beren named the road after the village where he was born in, in Aitutaki in 1945,” she said.
The Berens connection with Amuri started with Arthur’s father, the late Arthur Black Beren, who was part of the US Army Supply Corps during the World War II. He was stationed on Aitutaki to build the airstrip.
Arthur Black Beren fell in love with a local girl Martha Taiono and they had Arthur Beren.
Young Anika visited Aitutaki in 2017 with her grandfather and spent the day with her uncle Teariki George. Earlier this year she visited Rarotonga with her grandfather and spent a week at The Edgewater Resort.
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit New Zealand and the country went into lockdown, Anika decided to use the free time to develop Amuri Gardens.
As a student of Springbank School – a private school in Kerikeri, Far North of New Zealand – Anika along with other students are required to come up with a business idea, make product(s) and then sell them at the school’s market day.
Mum Mignon explained: “This is the first year Anika has had to do this project on her own, as Years 1 - 4 do the projects a class together, and Year 5 onwards they do it themselves, or in pairs.”
Mignon said as part of the market day project each student must donate 25 per cent of their profits to a charity.
“In previous years, her class has worked with the SPCA, but this year she chose a local animal rescue charity who rely fully on donations. She also chose to give away 100 per cent of her profits.”
Anika grew the native tree seeds in a recycled container and the plan initially was to just sell the seedlings.
Mignon said: “Then we wondered how could we change the business model so that she could sell the native seedlings to people who weren’t in a position to buy one to plant themselves.
“So, we changed tack a little bit and came up with a ‘donate a tree’ package, where for just $10 a person can purchase the native seedling and a biodegradable tree guard and Anika will then take the seedling and plant it.”
Anika has sold nearly 100 of these seedlings and has donated more than $1500 to the Bay of Islands Animal Rescue.
Mignon said they would love to support a Cook Islands animal group such as SPCA or Te Are Manu Vet Clinic in the future.