The prestigious Ahuwhenua Trophy competition was first held in 1933 and is designed to showcase and celebrate excellence in Maori agriculture and horticulture. Over three years competitions are run for dairy, sheep and beef, and horticulture; in 2021 the award recognises excellence in dairying.
The competition was initiated by the great Maori leader Sir Apirana Ngata and the Governor-General at the time Lord Bledisloe who was a highly successful farmer in his own right. Their vision was to encourage and incentivise Maori farmers to improve their farming operation and for the winners of the competition to become role models for their peers.
By entering the Ahuwhenua Trophy competition, Maori have the opportunity to celebrate and showcase the standards they set as kaitiaki and stewards of the land to the world.
The finalists in this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy for the top Māori sheep and beef farm were announced at Parliament on 21 February 2019 by the Minister of Agriculture, Hon Damien O’Connor.
2019 Ahuwhenua Trophy finalists
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.
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. He says 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. 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.
Kingi Smiler says that 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. Media, along with members of the public are most welcome to attend.
Field day schedule
Thursday 4 April – Whangara Farms
Thursday 11 April – Te Awahohonu Forest Trust, Gwavas Station
Thursday 18 April – Kiriroa Station, Eugene & Pania King
The Ahuwhenua Trophy, Te Puni Kōkiri Excellence in Māori Farming Award acknowledges and celebrates business excellence in New Zealand's important pastoral sector. This competition is held annually, alternating each year between dairy and sheep & beef. The 2019 sheep and beef competition judged entrants on the following criteria: Governance and strategy, community involvement, financials, feed production, human resource, environment and sustainability which Eugene and Pania King of Kiriroa Station won Friday 24th May 2019.
Kingi Smiler, Ahuwhenua Trophy Management Committee Chairman congratulated Eugene and Pania describing them as a great example of a couple who set challenging goals and then achieved them. He says the King whānau worked so well together, helping each other to achieve farm ownership and now they have earned a unique place in the legacy of the Ahuwhenua Trophy. Kingi described Eugene and Pania as outstanding role models for Māori farming saying all New Zealanders should take note of their achievements and that of their whānau.
Kingi says all this year’s finalists ran farming operations which are among the best in Aotearoa and for that matter the world. The farms were of the highest standard and the task of deciding a winner would not have been easy. This year was a great example of the standard of Māori farming in the country and it is great that we have the Ahuwhenua Trophy competition to showcase its success.
About Kiriroa Station
Kiriroa Station is owned and operated by husband and wife team, Eugene and Pania King. For 12 years they 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 yearlong 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 to the 2.2 km of the river flowing through Kiriroa.
Kiriroa Station is situated in the Motu Valley which is almost halfway between Gisborne and Opotiki. The Motu Valley is home to weka –and because of their declining numbers, in 2015 Eu-gene and Pania retired 2ha 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 thriv-ing. There are three QEII covenants on Kiriroa and a further two to be done within the next three years.
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!
If you or someone you know is interested in entering the Ahuwhenua trophy, click here.
Hineora Orchard Te Kaha 15B Key Contact: Norman Carter, 027 280 9452, email@example.com
|Thursday 26 March||Hineora Orchard||Te Kaha 15B Trust, Te Kaha|
|Thursday 2 April||Otama Marere||Te Puke|
|Thursday 9 April||Ngai Tukairangi Trust||Tauranga
More than 150 people attended the field day of Pouarua Farms, one of the finalists in this year’s prestigious Ahuwhenua Trophy for the top Māori Dairy farm.
Pouarua Farms are a large Māori owned dairy operation located near the township of Ngatea on the Hauraki Plains, close to Thames. The 2,200ha platform comprises 10 farms – nine dairy units and one drystock unit and is the largest single dairy platform in the Hauraki region. A total of 4,600 cows are milked across 1,775ha and produce approximately 1.65M kgMS.
People came from many parts of the central North Island including the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions. They included representatives from central and local government, rural professionals, sponsors, and a wide cross section of leaders from te ao Māori and the agibusiness sector. Also present were representatives of the other two finalists, Tataiwhetu Trust located in the Rūātoki Valley south of Whakatane and Tunapahore B2A Incorporation at Hawai on State Highway 35 on the East Coast of the North Island.
The visitors were welcomed onto the farm by the kaumātua of Pouarua Farms Walter Ngamane and other local dignitaries. After the formalities, those attending the day watched a series of presentations by directors and staff from the farm setting out its history, vision, current operations, and their plans for the future. Later they had the opportunity to tour the property where further details about the farm were presented.
The Chairman of the Ahuwhenua Trophy Management Committee, Kingi Smiler, praised the organisers for a well-run field day. He says the overall organisation was excellent, as was the presentation of the material about the farm.
Kingi says entering the competition in such challenging and uncertain times takes a lot of courage and determination, and Pouarua Farms, like the other two finalists have shown just that. He says in these difficult times highlighting the positive aspect of Māori agribusiness is more important than ever because it helps ignite a sense of pride among Māori people and the wider community.
“Field days such as this one at Pouarua Farms are an outstanding example of the achievements of Māori and highlights the growing contribution of Māori to the wider Aotearoa economy. We need to do more showcasing of our achievements as many people still do not understand the value of the Māori economy,” he says.
Field days for the other two farms will be held Thursday 1st April at Tataiwhetu Trust and Thursday 8th April at Tunapahore B2A Incorporation. The winner of the competition will be announced at the Ahuwhenua Trophy Awards Dinner being held in New Plymouth on Friday 14th May.
See more about PGG Wrightsons' relationship with the Ahuwhenua Trophy here
Pouarua Farms Profile
Ngā Puke ki Hauraki ka tarehu
E mihi ana ki te whenua
E tangi ana ki te tangata
Ko Te Aroha kei roto
Ko Moehau kei waho
Ko Tīkapa te moana
Ko Hauraki te whenua
Pouarua Farms are located on the Hauraki Plains, 35km south east of the Bombay Hills. The 2,200ha platform comprises ten farms: nine dairy units and one drystock unit. This is the largest single dairy platform in the Hauraki region. 4,600 cows are milked across 1,775ha and produce approximately 1.65M kgMS. Pouarua Farms are jointly owned by Ngāti Maru, Ngāti Paoa, Ngāti Tamaterā, Ngāti Tara Tokanui and Te Patukirikiri.
The farms lie within the Māori land blocks known as Ngarua, Waitakaruru and Puhangateuru.The Waitangi Tribunal confirmed that the iwi of Hauraki suffered raupatu by the Crown and were marginalised in their own rohe being among the most landless of iwi in the nation Pouarua Farms were returned to the five iwi in 2013 in the largest on-account Treaty settlement ever made by the Crown. The farms were initially in a 50/50 sharemilking agreement with Landcorp from 2013 – 2019. Pouarua Farms are now fully operated by the iwi owners under a limited partnership arrangement.
The board is independently chaired by the Honourable John Luxton along with iwi representative directors Paul Majurey, John McEnteer, and Rick Braddock, who have all served from the outset of the return of Pouarua Farms to the iwi.
Since taking on full operational care in May 2019, significant productive and financial gains have been achieved by careful execution of management led by Chief Executive Jenna Smith. The dairy farms are run as system 2 and as all the farms sit on quite raw peat of varying maturity, production and input are therefore equally as variable. Farm A was established in 2017 after a reconfiguration of four of the farms with the intention to increase on-farm efficiencies. Milking 600 cows on 217 effective hectares through a well-equipped modern 54 bail rotary shed, the farm is the vision of its owners, with practical technologies and careful consideration for the environment.
Farm A recorded an 18% increase in per cow milk production to 390 kgMS in the 19/20 season and a 20% increase in per hectare production to 1,034 kgMS despite a significant drought. This was achieved with careful utilisation of on-farm grown feeds and adjusting the stocking rate down, as well as utilising 3-in-2 milking to conserve energy during the hotter months. Nitrogen use is capped to 150 units/ha across all farms and Farm Environment Plans were adopted as soon as full operational care as Undertaken. A forever planting plan sees approximately 7,500 plants (Harakeke and other native species) planted annually across the entire platform. With riparian planting of the drains the main priority. Specific species are planted in cultural gardens to utilise in weaving, medicines, food (honey), bird habitat, water quality, soil conservation and landscape improvement. Staff are supported with multiple on and off farm training opportunities, and the community is engaged through the local schools as well as a spend local policy which brings prosperity to the communities our people live in.
Contact: Jenna Smith, 027 599 0802 / firstname.lastname@example.org