Three red meat farms have been named as finalists in the 2019 Ahuwhenua Trophy for excellence in Māori sheep and beef farming.
The three winning properties honoured at an event at Parliament in Wellington last week are: Whangara Farms, situated 35 km north of Gisborne; Te Awahohonu Forest Trust’s Gwavas Station, Tikokino 50km west of Hastings; and Kiriroa Station, run by Eugene and Pania King, Motu, 70km north west of Gisborne.
Minister of Māori Development Nanaia Mahuta opened proceedings at the event and referred to her thoughts following the previous year’s dairy-farming Trophy recipients: “The outstanding reflection for me was what being in business did for their whānau,” she commented.
Another positive for her was that the award also celebrates young farmers.
“We need to encourage excellence,” said Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor, acknowledging the current challenges in training and noting the Government is committed to providing support for young people, Māori and others.
“The finalists are at the top of their game,” he noted. “They provide inspiration and example for others to get up and do their bit and grow this country.”
O’Connor commended all the finalists on stepping up to the challenging process of being scrutinised by the judges.
High calibre of finalists shows strength of Māori agribusiness sector
The chairman of the Ahuwhenua Trophy Management Committee, Kingi Smiler, says the high calibre of this year’s finalists shows the strength of the Māori agribusiness sector. Selecting the three finalists from an impressive field of entrants was no easy task.
“This competition is prestigious and people actively seek to enter this event to showcase the quality of their farming enterprises,” he says, noting what makes Māori sheep and beef farms so special is that in most cases they are in remote hill country areas which in itself makes farming operations challenging throughout the year, but especially in times of adverse events.
“The resilience and innovation shown by these people is an example to all New Zealanders that hard work coupled with clear strategic objectives and excellent farm management can produce some outstanding outcomes,” he says.
Smiler says over the years the Māori agribusiness sector has grown exponentially, not only in sheep and beef, but also in dairy and horticulture. He says Māori are rapidly moving into the value-add space and to increase returns from their assets.
“We are seeing better governance in trusts and incorporations and they in turn are employing top managers to run their businesses. At the same time young people are coming back to work on the land which is great. Māori are making the economic impact we always knew they could,” he says.
Field days will held at the farms during April. These are open to the public and provide an opportunity for the finalists to showcase their properties. It is also part of the judging process.
- Thursday 4 April – Whangara Farms
- Thursday 11 April – Te Awahohonu Forest Trust, Gwavas Station
- Thursday 18 April – Kiriroa Station, Eugene & Pania King
The 2019 Ahuwhenua Trophy winner will be announced on 24 May at the Awards dinner at the Gisborne Showgrounds and Events Centre.
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 (guardians). On a three-year rotational basis, the Trophy is competed for by Māori farmers in the sheep and beef, horticulture and dairy sectors. The 2020 award will celebrate Māori agribusinesses associated with horticulture.