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Ahuwhenua Blog post
24 November 2020

Ahuwhenua Trophy 2020 Winner Announced

The winner of the inaugural Ahuwhenua Trophy Excellence in Māori Horticulture Award 2020 is Te Kaha 15B Hineora Orchard. Hineora Orchard is a Māori freehold land block located in the Eastern Bay of Plenty township of Te Kaha, 65km east of Ōpōtiki. 

The announcement was made on Friday 20th November 2020 by Her Excellency, the Rt Hon. Dame Patsy Reddy at a special awards function in Rotorua attended by 750 people including the Minister for Māori Development and Minister of Agriculture, other politicians and dignitaries, agribusiness leaders and whānau. 

The two other finalists were Otama Marere in Paengaroa near the Bay of Plenty town of Te Puke, who grow a mixture of Green, SunGold and organic kiwifruit as well as avocados, and Ngāi Tukairangi Trust which is very large kiwifruit operation with one of its orchards based at Matapihi, just a few kilometres from the centre of Tauranga city. 

The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy presented the Ahuwhenua Trophy to Norm Carter, the Chairman of Hineroa Orchard, while Ahuwhenua Trustees the Hon Willie Jackson, Hon Damien O’Connor and Dave Samuels presented the replica trophy, as well as winners medal, historic certificate and cash prize to the Trust. 

Te Kaha 15B, Hineora Orchard comprises of 11.5 hectares, on which the Trust runs a kiwifruit joint venture operation, a commercial pack-house facility housing the local kiwifruit spray company (in which the Trust holds shares), and a four bedroom home for accommodation at the block. Prior to the Trust’s creation in 1970, the land was largely occupied by different whānau who farmed the block maintaining a subsistence living growing a range of fruit and vegetables for the local community. 

Kingi Smiler, the Chairman of the Ahuwhenua Trophy Management Committee says Te Kaha 15 B Hineora Orchard was a worthy winner of the trophy. He says the Trustees have shown great vision, persistence and resilience to establish their operation and to achieve some impressive results. He says their operation, like the other finalists, is something that must make their whānau feel proud of their efforts. 

Kingi says this is the first time in the 87 year history of the competition that the trophy has been open to Māori horticulturalists and says this is not before time. He says Māori are significant players in the horticultural sector and we must recognise their contribution to the New Zealand economy.

Kingi also praised the other finalists, Otama Marere and Ngāi Tukairangi Trust saying the standards of their operations are among the best in the New Zealand horticultural sector. 

“All three finalists have helped set a benchmark for future entrants in this competition which will be hard to eclipse. What makes it more impressive is the fact that they done this in one of the most difficult times in the history of the country when uncertainty is a way of life. I am proud, Māori should be proud and the whole country should acknowledge their efforts,” he says. 

More details about Te Kaha 15B, Hineora Orchard 

The whenua falls within the tribal rohe of Te Whānau-a-Apanui, and more specifically, is associated with Te Whānau a Te Ehutu hapū. Later a citrus orchard was established, however, given the small land area, this also failed to provide a sustainable economic return for its owners. By 1998 the Trustees recognised that they were asset rich but lacked sufficient capital to develop their land. Fortunately, at the same time, a group of Eastern Bay of Plenty orchardists were seeking opportunities for development of the (then) new Gold variety of kiwifruit and were prepared to enter into 50/50 joint ventures with Trusts, effectively providing capital investment to the value of the land contributed for development by landowners. 

The Hineora Orchard operation began in 1999 and was the last of six blocks to join the innovative joint venture development with decisions made, and profits shared, on a 50/50 basis with investors for a period of 20 years. Originally intended to end in 2021, the joint venture has managed the current orchard operation through the highs of the returns from the original Gold variety, to the lows of the PSA vine disease which devastated large parts of the kiwifruit industry. The land, and its orchard operation, is now due to be returned to 100% ownership by the trust in 2023. As a result of this 20 year journey, the Trustees, who have each served over 15 years on the Trust, now jointly manage an 8.13 hectare orchard operation of G3 SunGold kiwifruit, producing just over 133,000 trays annually. They work closely with their contracted Orchard Manager, and local cool-storage company OPAC.  

Along with the other five joint venture blocks, they have formed a subsidiary spray company, Te Kaha Gold Sprayers who employ locals to work on OPAC orchards in the area. Significant investment from the six blocks has enabled the company to extend its operations across the Te Kaha and Omaio areas, and they now employ over 20 staff, many of whom are whānau.  

The Trust was also influential in the establishment of Te Whānau-a-Apanui Fruitgrowers Incorporated – a charitable community education outreach group, responsible for upskilling 60 local workers to level 4 qualifications in Horticulture as well as supporting locals to build to Diploma level courses. Whilst the Trust does not have any historic sites on its land, it continues to have a strong commitment to sustainability and offers annual kaumatua grants to shareholders as well as tangi, health, education, sporting, culture and travel grants. Te Kaha 15B is another example of Māori having the vision, and courage, to embrace a new model of working, taking hold of their destiny and developing their land to its potential for future generations. 

Hineora Orchard Te Kaha 15B Key Contact: Norman Carter, 027 280 9452, nac13@xtra.co.nz  

A brief History of Ahuwhenua 

The Ahuwhenua Trophy is the most prestigious award for excellence in Māori farming and horticulture and was inaugurated 87 years ago by the visionary 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 with an emphasis on sustainability. On a three year rotational basis, the Trophy is competed for by Māori in the sheep and beef, horticulture and dairy sectors. In 2021 the competition will be for dairy. 

Media can call Peter Burke 021 2242184 peterj@true-to-ireland.com.  Photographs are free for use in relation to the competition. Visit www.bit.ly/ahuwhenuatrophy or contact John Cowpland, Alphapix: 027 253 3464 / info@alphapix.co.nz.

Additional information about the competition is on the Ahuwhenua website

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Nature’s little treat produces a sweet relationship

28 September 2020

RockitTM apples were launched commercially in 2010 as a premium, on-the-go, fresh, healthy snack. This award-winning apple was the result of a natural breeding programme by New Zealand scientists. They are slightly larger than a golf ball and the apple has a distinctive sweet flavour and red colour.

Initially grown in Hawke’s Bay, RockitTM apples are now grown under licence internationally with intellectual property protection which assists in enabling year-round supply. John Loughlin, Chairman of Rockit Global Limited said, “RockitTM are the only miniature apple available globally. The apples were initially exported to Taiwan in 2013 and are now available in 27 countries. Fruitfed Supplies has been supporting us through our steep increase in production for the past seven years.”

As a pioneering company, Rockit Global do not place themselves in the apple market, they compete with snack foods. The innovative cylinder-shaped recyclable packaging conveniently allows the apples to be eaten directly from the container, without having to be washed. The packaging is designed to be stacked on any shop counter, allowing it to be sold alongside fast moving consumer foods in outlets other than supermarkets and grocery stores.

John said, “The past two to three years have seen huge growth taking place at 30-40% per annum. We are focusing on rapid growth by commercialising our product and investing ahead of the curve. Our new $50 million purpose-built head office, cool store, and packhouse is in development on the outskirts of Hastings and incorporates new innovations and technology.”

Fruitfed Supplies Technical Horticultural Representative (THR), Richard Griffiths, has been working alongside Rockit Management Services (RMS), the orchard arm of the business, since the beginning of the relationship. Richard works closely with RMS General Manager, Chris Hurrey, supporting him throughout the whole process, from the development of new blocks through to harvest assessments, as well as providing advice to help produce an export quality crop.

Richard makes recommendations to RMS managers regarding soil nutrition levels before trees are planted, delivers advice on chemical usage, and coordinates the supply of posts. As new development blocks come into production, Richard maps the area and uses GPS for the Orchard-Rite® wind machines to be placed and installed with the correct coverage area.

RMS are at the forefront of innovation and Richard has instigated demonstration days on their orchards with suppliers to Croplands (who manufacture and supply spray equipment, components and accessories for sustainable agriculture) to exhibit new technology to assist RMS achieve industry-leading, integrated and sustainable crop management practices. Richard says, “the relationship relies on our Fruitfed Supplies team being proactive and thinking about their requirements, especially during this rapid growth phase, as well as Chris having trust in our recommendations.”

Chris respects Richard’s knowledge as a THR and an orchardist and Chris knows that Richard will only recommend something that will add value to RMS. They have developed a personal relationship built on trust and Chris says, “Richard’s humble enough to admit if he doesn’t know something and he’ll find out the answer as he knows how accurate the information has to be. He provides the best service to us and looks after our needs so I can focus on what I have to do, I don’t have to go behind and check.”


Working with PGW

Richard Griffiths joined Fruitfed Supplies 10 years ago and is a THR servicing horticultural customers across Hawke’s Bay. Richard collaborates with the Fruitfed Supplies’ Technical Team. Members of this Research and Development team are all science degree-qualified and they have a clear appreciation of the realities of commercial horticulture. The Technical Team support our THRs and our customers with in depth expert advice in a range of subjects to increase orchard performance and productivity, and deliver better export quality produce to market.


Sheffield Primary receives boost from Cash for Communities Programme

02 September 2020

Raising funds to provide Kiwi kids with additional resources and equipment to enjoy while at school takes considerable time and effort in fundraising. For Sheffield Primary School in Mid Canterbury, the Cash for Communities programme delivered a win recently with the school being donated $333.

Nigel Easson, Principal of Sheffield Primary School, says the money will go towards the cost of timber used to build a ga-ga ball pit (a game similar to dodgeball). The materials will be purchased from a local timber company and will be built by volunteers.

With Nigel only moving into the role at Sheffield Primary School from March this year, he has noted how hugely supportive the community is of the school. He therefore wasn’t surprised by the Cash for Communities programme donation knowing how keen local farmers are to help the school. With no caretaker employed at the school, it’s the community who volunteer on a weekly basis to ensure the school’s grounds are maintained.

As businesses deeply rooted in rural communities, PGG Wrightson and Ballance Agri-Nutrients want to keep Kiwi communities thriving. Back in 2011 the companies joined force to create a partnership to help raise funds for local organisations. By purchasing Ballance Agri-Nutrients fertiliser through PGG Wrightson this spring you can keep both your crops and pasture, and your community thriving, through the Cash for Communities programme.

Hamish Milner, PGG Wrightson Rural Supplies Darfield Store Manager, said the uptake by customers to join the Cash for Communities programme is incredibly high with them keen to give back to their local community. 

Every year Hamish and his team make a big effort to ensure all their fertiliser customers are aware of the Cash for Communities programme and get signed up. Hamish either gives customers a call or gets his local Technical Field Representatives and Arable Representatives to discuss with farmers when they’re on-farm.

Other schools have benefited recently from the Cash for Communities programme in Hamish’s area with Springfield and Darfield Primary Schools receiving donations.

What makes the Cash for Communities programme extra special for Hamish is the opportunity to present the donation cheques to the recipients within his own community allowing him to meet and talk with them.

The success of the Cash for Communities programme is due to everyone involved seeing the benefit of this initiative, from the teams at PGG Wrightson and Ballance Agri Nutrients, to their customers and the donation recipients. The recipients enthusiasm and level of appreciation is demonstrated by Nigel, Sheffield Primary School’s Principal, who has invited PGG Wrightson and Ballance Agri Nutrients representatives back to the school to take a look at the ga-ga ball area when its finished as a thank you for the donation.

Cash for communities

Masterton Saleyards Upgrade

14 December 2020
Locals will have noticed that the Masterton Saleyards have not operated since the first COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020. The lockdown resulted in the cancellation of the weaner fairs and subsequently with no saleyards operating under Alert Levels 4 and 3, the co-owners, PGG Wrightson Limited* (PGW) and Carrfields Livestock Limited (Carrfields), felt it was time to assess the future of this long standing Wairarapa livestock selling centre.

Having considered all the options PGW and Carrfields are pleased to announce that jointly they have agreed to, and the respective Boards have approved, a capital investment to right size and upgrade the Masterton Saleyards.

Peter Newbold, General Manager Livestock for PGW, and Donald Baines, General Manager Livestock for Carrfields, said “this recognises the importance of the selling centre to the farmers in Wairarapa, and we pleased to announce this upgrade.”

The upgrade will include installing a new effluent and storm water system that will meet consent requirements, plus an upgrade of the selling centre rostrum and associated walkways. Given lower overall stock numbers being sold through the saleyards, areas no longer required will be demolished, but there will still be more than enough capacity to meet demands in the foreseeable future.

Work commenced at the saleyards in early December and all things going to plan sheep sales should commence early in the new year.

All media enquiries to:

Peter Newbold, General Manager Livestock, PGG Wrightson Ltd
027 484 5964

Donald Baines, General Manager Livestock, Carrfields
027 328 8781

*All references to PGG Wrightson Limited or the Group refer to the Company, its subsidiaries and interests in associates and jointly controlled entities

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