Eugene and Pania King from Kiriroa Station at Matawai, north-west of Gisborne, are this year’s winners of the Ahuwhenua Trophy for the top Māori sheep and beef farm.
About 200 people attended the day.
Smiler says Rakaia Incorporation has huge local support and a wonderful story to tell about the history of the farm – one it tells beautifully. The story tells how they took back control of their lands after suffering during the colonisation process.
The decision to convert the land to dairying was a brave one at the time and the whanau has a great sense of pride about its achievements.
"Tahu a Tao is like many Maori farms which are managing the volatility in the dairy industry and still making a profit while most other dairy farms will be making losses this season.
"There are a couple of key reasons for that. Maori farming is focused on intergenerational outcomes so they are not farming for capital gains and are not looking at the property market. Instead they are working and sustaining the land and deriving a yield so that they can support each generation of shareholders so that all get some benefit from the property.
"It's a completely differently philosophy and therefore their onfarm focus on performance is there every year, not just when prices pick up."
Smiler says Rakaia Incorporation has been tight on farm working expenses and has done a wonderful job getting high productivity at low cost – superior to most farms in this region and nationwide. Low debt enables them to manage well.
Maori farms generally have good sustainable farming systems which clearly work, and in these tough times Smiler expects other farmers to start adopting some of these practices.
At least 800 people have recently attended the field days of the three Ahuwhenua Trophy finalists, an excellent turnout, Smiler says. The competition instills pride and mana in whanau directly involved and in Maori generally. He hopes this will help motivate them to pass this on to successive generations.
An awards dinner and ceremony will be held on Friday May 20 in Hamilton. About 800 people are expected to attend.