Kiriroa Station last to be judged in the Ahuwhenua Trophy

Kiriroa - Eugene & Pania King
Eugene (left) and Pania King - Kiriroa Station. Photo:

The final farm field day in the tri-series of judging days in this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy took place at Eugene and Pania King’s Kiriroa Station last week.

Kiriroa Station sign - ALPH1902160381 (1)The day again attracted a significant turnout. Kiriroa Station at Motu, 70 km north west of Gisborne is owned and operated by husband and wife team, Eugene and Pania King.

About 300 people came along to hear the Kings talk about their determination and hard work with whanau that enabled them to buy the farm. There was also a tour where visitors had the opportunity to see stock and also some of the improvements the couple have made to the farm since they bought it in 2013.

Kiriroa Station is situated almost half way between Gisborne and Opotiki. The property is 483ha, (357 effective). Sixty ha flat, 200ha medium hill, with the balance being steep hill. The Kings trade cattle and finish all stock on farm and are currently wintering 3,800 stock units; a mix of 40 percent cattle and 60 percent sheep.The King family have a long association with the Ahuwhenua Trophy with Bart and Nukuhia Hadfield winning the trophy in 2015 and Ronald and Justine King being finalists in 2017.

Kingi Smiler, Ahuwhenua Trophy management committee chairman says the field day at Kiriroa was an excellent event. The farm is a long way from any main centre, yet people turned out to see how the Kings manage this challenging block.

Eugene and Pania King are genuine role models for Māori farming, demonstrating how goal setting and hard work pays dividends. A long time ago their whānau (family) set a goal of farm ownership, they never deviated from this path and now have all achieved it in style. What is more, having got their farm, they have set a course of continuing improvement which was evident to all those who attended the field day.

The Kings and the other Ahuwhenua Trophy finalists have taken Māori farming to a new level of excellence and are rightly acknowledged by being in the final of this prestigious competition, says the organiser. These are not just good Māori farms – they benchmark up with and above all farms of this type in Aotearoa.

More about the farm

Kiriroa Station - ALPH1902160353 (1)
Kiriroa Station. Photo: alphapix.

For 12 years the Kings farmed in a whānau partnership. They all had one goal in common, to one day all own their own farms. The whānau knew that with hard work, commitment, and determination their goal would be reached. Eugene and Pania are grateful to have had the opportunity to farm with whānau, and are proud of what has been achieved.

In 2013 Eugene and Pania decided they had built enough equity to finally go out on their own.

After a year long search for a farm, they found Kiriroa. In March 2014 they moved to Motu to start a new chapter in their lives. Kiriroa is a special place to the Kings. They feel lucky to have taonga like the Motu river, and consider themselves kaitiaki (guardians) to the 2.2 km of the river flowing through Kiriroa.

The Motu Valley is home to weka – and because of their declining numbers, in 2015 Eugene and Pania retired two hectares of land for them. With the help of the Gisborne District Council, Motu School, as well as support from the community, native plants were planted and a weka wetland habitat was established. With ongoing monitoring and maintaining the habitat, the weka are thriving. There are three QEII covenants on Kiriroa and a further two to be done within the next three years.

Soil types are predominately pumice with some sedimentary. The property has an annual rainfall of 2.1 –2.5m, with altitude ranging from 500m asl – 732m. Motu Valley is regarded as summer safe, but does have long, cold winters. Regular snow falls are not uncommon. The King whānau is very supportive of whānau, community, marae and school; living and breathing their whakatauaki:

Poipoia te whenua, te wai, te hunga tangata ano hoki e ora tonu ia tatou!
Look after the land, water, and the people, and all will look after you!

Having seen all three of the Ahuwhenua Trophy finalist sheep and beef farms, the judges will now deliberate. The winner of the 2019 Ahuwhenua Trophy will be announced at a Gala Dinner in Gisborne on 24 May. The Ahuwhenua Trophy is the most prestigious award for excellence in Māori farming and was inaugurated in 1933 by the renowned Māori Leader, Sir Apirana Ngata and the Governor General at the time, Lord Bledisloe. The objective was and still is to encourage Māori farmers to improve their land and their overall farming position as kaitiaki. On a three-year rotational basis, the Trophy is competed for by Māori farmers in the sheep and beef, horticulture and dairy sectors.

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