The winner of this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy for the top Māori Dairy farm is Tataiwhetu Trust located in the Ruatoki Valley south of Whakatane.
The Minister of Agriculture, Hon Damien O’Connor announced their success at the Ahuwhenua Trophy awards dinner in New Plymouth attended by 800 people including the Hon Willie Jackson, Hon Meka Whaitiri, Kiingi Tuheitia, other dignitaries, politicians, agribusiness leaders and whānau from all the finalists.
As the Minister presented the winners with the trophy there were scenes of great jubilation as Trust members and whānau came on stage to join in the celebrations.
Tataiwhetu Trust is an organic dairy farm on which run 432 kiwi cross cows and carry 188 replacement stock on their two support blocks. They milk once a day and their herd produces 129,140 kgMS.
The other finalists were:
Pouarua Farms, a large operation consisting of 4,600 cows run on nine separate farms located near the township of Ngatea on the Hauraki Plains, close to Thames. The 2,200ha platform is the largest single dairy platform in the Hauraki region producing approximately 1.65M kgMS.
Tunapahore B2A Incorporation, a 385 cow operation located at Hawai and Torere on State Highway 35 on the East Coast of the North Island. The milking platform is 132ha, with 385 cows producing 125,940 kgMS.
Kingi Smiler, Chairman of the Ahuwhenua Trophy Management Committee, says the standard of all the finalists this year was particularly high and the judges had their work cut out to come up with a winner. He says the field days run by all the finalists were extremely good and showed the quality and depth of Māori dairy farming enterprises. Each finalist excelled and all are great role models for farmers.
“But in the end Tataiwhetu Trust were determined the winners and they and their staff are to be congratulated for this. Their farm is very special and is yet another example of our people working innovatively and hard and focusing on key strategic objectives. They join an illustrious alumni of past winners” says Kingi.
The Ahuwhenua Trophy is the most prestigious award for excellence in Māori farming and was inaugurated 88 years ago by the great 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. This year the competition is for dairy.
See more about PGG Wrightson's relationship with The Ahuwhenua Trophy here
Tataiwhetu Trust Profile
Ko Taiarahia te Maunga
Ko Te Taumata te Pa o Tūhoe-Pōtiki
Ko Ōhinemataroa te Awa
Ko Tauarau te Pa
Ko Rongokarae te Tipuna Whare
Ko Ngatirongo te Hapu
Ko Ngāi Tūhoe te Iwi
Ko Mataatua te Waka
In 1921 Sir Apirana Ngata held a Land Consolidation meeting on Tauarau Marae for over one month, with the view of sub-dividing the land into productive units to sustain the living requirements of Tūhoe families. Nine years later Lord Bledisloe, the then Governor General of New Zealand, visited Ruatoki to monitor the progress of this Consolidation Scheme.
In the mid-1950s it was recognised that the land blocks owned by the families were too small, plus locals were starting off with cull cows from European farmers and couldn’t meet production expectations. Tūhoe families walked off the land to seek more constructive employment and income from the Tasman Mill in Kawerau.
Between 1960 and 1980 the land was left desolate and our ancestors and parents strived to find the answer to fully utilise the land again. Finally in 1986 six Ngatirongo families agreed to combine their lands to form the Ngatirongo Trust Farm.
Nine blocks were aggregated A40B, 41, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48C,50,74 giving a total start up area of 97.689ha with a usable dairy platform of 80ha. Successive adjoining land blocks were then leased to give a total dairy platform of 184ha.
Between 1986 and 2009 the initial development of the Ngatirongo Trust Farm was led by our kaumātua Frank Vercoe, with the assistance of a Farm Advisor and Sharemilker. The Sharemilker was milking up to 600 cows twice a day, supplying Fonterra 12 months of the year.
When our kaumātua resigned as Trust Chair in 2009, Paki Nikora was appointed into that position by the beneficiaries. He says after scrutinising the financial accounts over successive years, it was apparent that under the Sharemilker arrangement it wasn’t returning revenue expectations, plus the increase to 3.2 stock units per hectare wasn’t beneficial for our lands and environment, so they decided to become stand-alone operation.
The Trust then purchased 400 in calf kiwi cross heifers, milking once a day, and transitioned back to seasonal milking. The husband and wife staff employed by the previous Sharemilker were then employed by us to be our Farm Managers, and they excelled through Primary ITO Levels 1, 2, 3 & 4 through the next ten years of development.
- Stock: 432 kiwi cross cows, 100 R1yrs at our 50ha support block, 88 R2yrs at our 50ha support block
- System: seasonal milking and once a day since 2009
- Current stocking rate: 2.5/ha
- Production:129,140 kgMS
- Per cow production: 273 kgMS
- Production per ha: 694 kgMS
- Imported supplementary feed per cow: 0.8t/cow.
- Purchased Nitrogen Surplus: 12 kgN/ha.
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions: 7,736 kgCO2e/ha
In 2010 the Trust received the Ballance Farm Environment Award for the creation of special places on the farm including the protection and enhancement of wetlands, landscape features and historical places. A year later in collaboration with Tūhoe Pūtaiao the Trust received the Green Ribbon Award for protecting biodiversity.
Because our name was Ngatirongo Trust Farm, there was a perception that all of Ngatirongo hapū were beneficiaries in our lands, but they were not. So in 2014 the name was changed to Tataiwhetu Trust, which means that the original six families are the only descendants of our ancestral lands. In the same year, the Trust was presented with the Fonterra Gold Grade Free Certificate in recognition of excellence for consistent supply of the highest quality milk.
In 2015 the Tataiwhetu Trust transitioned from convention milking to organic and is now fully certified by AsureQuality. In 2019 it received the Fonterra Organic certificate.
Contact: Paki Nikora, 07 312 9165; 027 289 2688 / firstname.lastname@example.org