Ahuwhenua Trophy

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.

Latest news about the Ahuwhenua Trophy

Ahuwhenua Trophy 2019 Finalists Announced

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

  • Whangara Farms, situated 35 km north of Gisborne
  • Te Awahohonu Forest Trust – Gwavas Station, at Tikokino 50 km west of Hastings
  • Kiriroa Station – Eugene & Pania King, at Motu, 70 km north west of Gisborne

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

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Ahuwhenua Trophy 2019 winners announced

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.

Kiriroa Station

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.

Landscape of farm

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.

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Ahuwhenua Trophy 2020 Finalists Announced

The finalists in this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy for the top horticultural enterprise were announced 21 Feb 2020 at Parliament by the Minister for Māori Development, the Hon Nanaia Mahuta.
This is the first time in the 87 year history of the competition that the trophy has been open to Māori horticulturalists.The Ahuwhenua Trophy is the most prestigious award for excellence in Māori farming 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 farmers in the sheep and beef, horticulture and dairy sectors.
The Chairman of the Ahuwhenua Trophy Management Committee, Kingi Smiler which organises the competition says it is exciting to see such a positive response from Māori in the horticultural sector. He says the high calibre of all the entrants and in particular the finalists, highlights the contribution that Māori are making. He says in the last twenty years, the horticulture sector in New Zealand has become one of the stars of the New Zealand primary sector economy and it is pleasing to see that Māori have been an integral part of that growth.
“Since the inception of this competition we have seen what our sheep and beef and dairy farmers can do and now it is great to have the opportunity to showcase the excellence of our horticulturalists,” he says. Kingi Smiler says while the sector is now basking in its success, the industry has been through hard times – especially the kiwifruit sector who have had to deal with PSA which significantly impacted on the industry. “What we see in our finalists in 2020 is a unique combination of vision, resilience, innovation good governance, smart management and a commitment to their people. They should be proud of their achievements and we are proud of them,” he says.

The three finalists are:

Hineora Orchard 

Te Kaha 15B Ahu Whenua Trust
Te Kaha 15B is a Māori freehold land block located in the Eastern Bay of Plenty township of Te Kaha, 65km east of Ōpōtiki. The whenua falls within the tribal rohe of Te Whānau-a-Apanui, and more specifically, is associated with Te Whānau a Te Ehutu hapū. The land comprises an area of 11.5 hectares, on which the Trust run 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. 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

Otama Marere

Paengaroa North A5 Block 

Otama Marere (Paengaroa North A5) Block in Paengaroa near the Bay of Plenty town of Te Puke has gone through a remarkable transition. The land was originally leased to the local golf club on a 60 year lease at two shillings and six pence per acre. When the lease on the 45.01 hectare block expired in the 1980s, Otama Marere took back the land and converted the golf course into an orchard.
Today, the orchard is a thriving diversified block. There is 11.87 hectares of Hayward Green kiwifruit which produces approximately 527,631 gross kgs per year. There are three blocks of SunGold G3 with 2.21 hectares in production. In 2018, Otama Marere became one of the first Maori owned orchards to embrace organic SunGold and converted 3.48 hectares of the existing SunGold G3 into an organic kiwifruit block. A further development of 3.06 hectares brings a total of 7.08 hectares to Otama Marere’s organic Gold programme. While the organic is still in development, Otama Marere’s SunGold kiwifruit produces approximately 418,435 gross kgs per year and this will rise in future years with the newly established organic blocks. Otama Marere has been branded a leader in organic SunGold kiwifruit with companies such as Zespri seeking to bring overseas visitors to the orchard. The conversion has also been an invaluable source for other Maori growers, with the Trust providing education and information to fellow growers and the public alike.
From 2018 – 2020, the Trust planted 950 Gem avocados spanning four separate blocks, a total of 2.1 hectares. A full return is expected on these avocados in year five. Adding to the diversity of the block, Otama Marere also receives Apiary income and grazing proceeds. The Trust is also in the proceeds of re-planting their forestry block which was milled in 2018 with a mix of Manuka and Kauri trees.
Otama Marere employs up to ten whanau owners at any one time, including the Orchard Manager Homman Tapsell. While these staff are employed on various tasks around the orchard, Seeka a packhouse and orchard services provider, assists with additional labour where needed, particularly around fruit picking.
While there are no sacred sites on the property, there is one on neighbouring land and the Trust is supporting the owners who are conducting investigations into how best to work with the neighbour on this issue. This is the pa site that was occupied by Rangiiwaho and his whanau. It provides the origins and significance of the name Otama Marere. At that time, the wetland around the pa was abundant in tuna and other vegetables, with the land where the orchard now is located being used for growing watercress, kumara, kamokamo and other vegetables. In order to acknowledge those who have come before and nourish the whenua, the Trust has now re-developed a wetland which has seen 7,600 native plants established to bring this area back to life. Birdlife have been attracted to this feature, along with the occasional eel.
The Otama Marere Trust has a strong commitment to its shareholders and provides a range of grants. These include grants to kaumatua, tangihana, cultural and sporting grants, education grants and a post-graduate scholarship. Owners in Otama Marere also receive annual dividends and are encouraged to reconnect to the orchard through visits and other events which are held there.
Otama Marere’s golf course to kiwi fruit orchard is undoubtedly one of the most unusual and successful agricultural conversions in New Zealand’s history.
Otama Marere Key Contact: Gemma Mills, 027 265 5695, Gemma.Mills@pgtrust.co.nz

Ngai Tukairangi Trust

Ngai Tukairangi Trust is very large kiwifruit operation with one of its orchards, based at Matapihi, just a few kilometres from the centre of Tauranga city. Their land is on a peninsular and was originally used for dairy farming. Forty years ago, a number of family members who owned the dairy farms feared that the land would become incorporated into urban development. They decided that they had a better chance of holding onto it by converting to kiwifruit.
At the start of the major kiwifruit boom in the 1990s, a Trust was formed, and the land was planted in kiwifruit. Today Ngai Tukairangi Trust has expanded and is said to be the largest Maori kiwifruit grower in the country. All told, it owns 110 hectares of land planted in kiwifruit including 60 hectares in Hastings which is covered.
Like most kiwifruit enterprises, Ngai Tukairangi was caught up in the PSA crisis, but unlike some growers who waited to see what might happen, they immediately grafted the G3 SunGold variety which is resistant to PSA. By acting early, the Trust became one of the first orchards to be producing SunGold and gained a commercial advantage.
When the Trust took over the Hastings orchard, they used their experience in the industry to make changes which saw production quadruple within a year. Today the Trust produces about 1.7 million trays of mainly Gold kiwifruit. They are confident that they can reach the magic two million tray mark and possibly even higher in the near future.
Innovation has been a hallmark of the Trust and they see themselves as very focused on the future and the demands of consumers. With that in mind they are considering strategies to convert their entire operation to organic.
Ngai Tukairangi Trust has 1,650 beneficial owners. They have made a point of encouraging whanau involvement and employ about 56 staff and as part of their commitment to sustainability have a substantial grants programme focused on education. Over the years they have supported several thousand of their hapū in this way. Grants have been to young people to gain PhDs, masters and graduate degrees, but they have also supported people to gain other skills-based qualifications such a truck driving.
The Trust has been through good and bad times with the kiwifruit industry but through good governance and management have developed a reputation as one of the leaders in the industry.
Ngai Tukairangi Key Contact: Ratahi Cross, 027 279 6284, falconsgiz@gmail.com

History of the Ahuwhenua Trophy

It is now 87 years since the Ahuwhenua Trophy was inaugurated by the visionary Māori leader Sir Apirana Ngata and the Governor General at the time Lord Bledisloe. What is quite remarkable is that this competition remains as relevant and as prestigious now as it was almost a century ago.
While the values and vision of Sir Apirana and Lord Bledisloe have remained unchanged, the way the competition is run has moved with the times – especially since its re-launch of the competition in 2003.
The Ahuwhenua Trophy competition was introduced to encourage skill and proficiency in Māori farming. Sir Apirana Ngata realised the importance of retaining and improving what remained of Māori land was critical. He led the renaissance of Māori land development which had been decimated during the colonisation of New Zealand by forced sales and lack of opportunity and access to development capital.
The inaugural 1933 competition was open to individual dairy farmers in the Waiariki Land district and was won by William Swinton from Raukokore, Bay of Plenty. The following year the competition

Field Days:

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

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Pouarua Field Day - Ahuwhenua Trophy

Good crowd at first Ahuwhenua Trophy field day

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 / jennas@pouaruafarms.co.nz

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