People

The page below is a brief outline of the nominated leaders and their interaction within the Tanna Island’s Coffee industry that clearly displays that we are way beyond fairtrade.

Mike Pole

  • Diploma of Agriculture Massey University
  • Director of Tanna Coffee Plantations
  • Sales and marketing representative of INIK Co-op JV partner

Mike is a retired New Zealander (previously working in construction) now living in Vanuatu. September2007 was the first time Mike went to Tanna to look at the challenge of re-igniting the coffee industry. This was undertaken after noticing that the lack-lustre efforts of the current steward had failed to succeed in the capacity of a private sector lead agricultural enterprise.

Mike used his own resources, man management skills and an in depth corporate knowledge to motivate initially small sectors of the flagging industry, gaining the belief that “together we could make this work”. Still today the good old Kiwi ‘roll your sleeves up and get on with it!’ attitude prevails.

One year of trying finally paid off. With clear beliefs in place in the leaders minds, and six months of hard work behind us including many meetings, trials and mediation finally allowed many others to grow coffee as they do today. The industry is currently growing at massive pace. One of the challenges Mike has is to control the growth and clearly identify the financial needs to make the whole picture work. Mike is also researching new crops possible to be commercially grown on Tanna. Development of websites, branding and satisfying the needs of established roasters currently using Tanna coffee beans is a constant challenge. Mike has allowed the leaders to develop their own style and pace of management.

Because of efforts to blend with Man Tanna’s wonderful kustom life and money for necessary items, there are now many very happy farmers looking forward to a clear future together with their families needs taken care of.

Rex Iapen

  • Vanuatu native and university graduate
  • Business spokesman for INIK Co-operative

Rex gave up a very good position in the banking sector in Vanuatu’s capital to return back to his people after identifying a real need for strong leadership on Tanna Island.

Rex continually helps many local people through their business and social development. He dedicates thousands of hours to the needs of his people for no financial reward. Rex understands the complex nature of communicating with Kustom people and helping them understand the business and social  implications for their choices and decisions.

He is a very valuable person to Tanna Island and it’s people. Rex also is a coffee farmer, father of 6 children and has thriving businesses on Tanna. Rex’s father was one of the founding chiefs that agreed to allow large scale coffee development in Middle bush Tanna Island. Rex is a calm politically savvy man that always puts his people first.

No one can thank him enough for his personal sacrifices he and his immediate family have made in the name of helping others. His inspiration to help comes from a love for his people and from the incredible teachers he had during his time at high school who gave him insight in to how much pleasure you could receive from helping and giving to others.

Napuat Mawe

  • TCP’s Representative on INIK Co-operative’s Board
  • Chief Technical advisor to Tanna Coffee Industry

Mr Tanna Coffee is Napuat’s title. He is the technical adviser to the industry and to Tanna Island Coffee. He represents The interests of Tanna Coffee Plantations [TCP] within the INIK Co-operative board and is along with his wife Monique and 5 children, the largest farmers in Vanuatu of high quality coffee.

Napuat oversees all new initiatives for increasing both production and quality assurance on behalf of all the coffee farmers. He along with other INIK board members is responsible to manage and direct the effective usage of funds, for continued development of the Coffee Industry, and other new potential crops aiding cash flow for his people. Napuat is very highly respected within Tanna and has great pride in how the coffee industry has grown under his watchful eye.

His accounting skills, political strength and sharp mind, make him a very important person for the coffee industry, particularly given that he will always place his people first. For many years Napuat worked hard for nothing to promote coffee as a sustainable crop for his people, and it is with great pride that, he can show you around the development of coffee plantations he was directly involved with, quoting the year and issues he faced while striving for his passion, coffee!

This is why he has the title of Mr Tanna Coffee.

  • Contact Napuat:
  • 006785693692

Sam Mariawa

Sam is the chairman of INIK Co-operative. Arguably the most difficult job of all the people highlighted on this page.

Sam is a Strong Kustom man and to listen to Sam lead and sing at 24 hour kustom dance ceremonies is truly a marvel in itself. Sam deals with the man management issues when blending model business practices with Kustom farmers, negotiating visions and views on how things should be run.

Sam sometimes pays a heavy price within his leadership role as the tall poppy syndrome is alive and well within all cultures of the world. He deals with money, accounting, payments and if required, contractors. Sam does it all with apparent ease but as with all the men above, he has worked hard for many years (2002 onwards) in his own capacity for little or no reward, other than helping the people around him.

Sometimes Sam’s gardens suffer because of the constant demand for his time but he is happy working with the knowledge in his heart that he is helping many peoples futures. The responsibility placed upon him is an important one. It is a privilege to have Sam as INIK’s chairman.

  • Contact Sam:
  • 00678 7791531

Each of the above men have a deep knowledge of the coffee industry and the blending of the kustom lifestyle that exists on Tanna Island. They are true leaders to be admired. They are also very approachable and would welcome phone calls so they can explain why Tanna Island’s coffee industry within TCP and INIK Co-operative is definitely way beyond fairtrade.