A TV show airing in New Zealand from tonight (October 6) follows the fortunes of Māori company Rua Bioscience and founders Manu Caddie and Panapa Ehau.

Six-part observational documentary Growing Dope will air on Prime and showcase how the firm, founded in 2016 as the Hikurangi Cannabis Company, went from start up to a high-security cultivation site near Ruatoria and a medicine manufacturing facility in Gisborne.

Growing Dope: Panapa Ehau and Manu Caddie

Ehu told Stuff the community has played a key role in the development of the business: “Over the generations, people around here have been let down by so many promises that didn’t come to fruition. They’re wary, so we did a roadshow up and down the coast before we opened the crowd-fund, and the amount of support was amazing. People loved to see their own, trying to do something positive for their people.”

There was also a lot of trust in cannabis as a product.

“A lot of people already use cannabis in our communities… so they don’t need any convincing that it’s important for our company to provide medicine for sick people,” Ehu added.

On the actual filming of the documentary, he said: “We were a bit nervous to have our mistakes on film, but one of our relations told us it was really important to document the process of building this business for the future… And it helped that it was some of our own people who wanted to film it.”

Over the six episodes, viewers will be exposed to the inner workings of the cannabis industry such as the construction of Rua’s multi-million dollar growing and extraction facilities and its first official crop harvest. 

The strain of Covid lockdowns will also be covered, as will the inner workings of the business, from attending a hemp cultivation course to meetings with investors. 

  • Growing Dope will air from this evening (Wednesday, October 6) at 9.30pm (NZDT) on Prime. 

Hannah Adler

Hannah is a communications professional and early-career researcher in the disciplines of health communication and health sociology. She is a PhD student at Griffith University currently writing a...