Omapere Rangihamama Trust farm near Kaikohe in the Far North has won the prestigious Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Māori Excellence in Farming Award for the top sheep and beef farm in Aotearoa New Zealand.
The announcement was made by the Prime Minister Right Honourable Bill English at an awards evening attended by more than 700 people in Whangarei last night. The function is regarded as one of the premier events on the national calendar for New Zealand agribusiness. It was attended by Māori leaders, politicians, agribusiness professionals, whānau of the finalists, past winners and media.
The trophy along with a special medal and a replica trophy was presented to the chairman of the Trust Raniera (Sonny) Tau. The Trust also received more than $40,000 in prizes.
The other two finalists were RA and JG King Partnership of Puketawa Station near Eketahuna and Pukepoto Farm Trust at Ongarue near Taumarunui.
Omapere is a 902 hectare (effective) mixed sheep and beef property which is in the process of transitioning into a mainly bull beef rearing operation. The farm borders Lake Omapere and since 2007, the present trustees of the property have embarked on an extensive strategic plan to improve the farm. The judges who selected Omapere as one of the three finalists in the competition noted many positives including the clear strategy of the Trust, its contribution to education and its overall farm performance.
The Ahuwhenua Trophy management committee chairman Kingi Smiler congratulated Omapere Rangihamama Trust saying like all Māori farms, it has a strong strategic and practical commitment to improving the environment of the property and this is benefiting their whānau and all other people in the district.
He says Omapere is also doing a lot to encourage its young people to make a career in agribusiness by offering scholarships and this again highlights their inter-generational strategic thinking. Smiler says those who attended Omapere’s field day would have come away well informed and could not help but admire the passion and commitment to making the best out of some challenging country.
Smiler congratulated all the finalists saying it was great to see three top quality sheep and beef farms selected as finalists for this prestigious trophy. He says all are top performing, extremely well run farms in some of the most challenging country and at a time when the New Zealand primary sector has encountered volatile global markets and low prices together with a need to adapt to climate change. He says the people who run these operations are positive and confident about their future and are taking an approach that Sir Apirana Ngata and Lord Bledisoe who inaugurated the competition would have wished.
“New Zealand is fortunate to have Māori farmers because it is in their DNA as kaitiaki to manage the fragile environment and invest for future generations. This spiritual closeness to the land is vital in a modern society where consumers not only want food, they want assurance that it is done sustainably and ethically” he says.
Kingi Smiler says Māori agribusiness is in very good shape. He says the Ahuwhenua Trophy has been a major factor in lifting the profile and showcasing Māori agribusinesses contribution to the New Zealand economy.
Jordan Biddle wins Young Māori Farmer Award
The winner of the 2017 Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award is Jordan Biddle, 21, Ngāti Pahauwera, who is a shepherd on Pihanui Station, south of Wairoa, owned by Ngāti Pahauwera.
The announcement was made by Jamie Tuuta, Chief Executive of Te Tumu Paeroa at the Ahuwhenua Trophy awards dinner in Whangarei last night. More than 700 guests including the Prime Minister, the Minister for Māori Development, other parliamentarians and representatives
of the Māori King were in attendance.
The other two finalists in the competition were 21 year old Dylan Ruki-Fowlie, Te Atihaunui a Pāpārangi, who works as a General Shepherd on Tawanui Station, south of Raetihi; and Hemoata Kopa, also 21, of Ngāpuhi (Matawaia) who works as a General Shepherd on Pukemiro Station just out of Dannevirke.
The Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award was first held in 2012 and is designed to recognise talented up-and-coming young Māori farmers. It is also intended to encourage young Māori to make farming a career choice and to showcase to prospective employers, the talent pool that exists within Māori.
More information is on the Ahuwhenua Trophy website www.ahuwhenuatrophy.maori.nz.