Monday, 12 October 2020 08:45

Historic day for Māori horticulturalists

Written by  Staff Reporters
Ngai Tukairangi Trust’s trustees and staff. Ngai Tukairangi Trust’s trustees and staff.

About 150 people turned out last week to attend a field day at Ngai Tukairangi Trust’s kiwifruit orchard at Matapihi.

The Trust is one of three finalists in Ahuwhenua Trophy competition for the top Māori horticulturalist of the year. 

This is the first time in its 87 year history that horticulture has been included in the competition. In the past the competition has been for dairy and sheep and beef, held in alternate years, but this year the competition was widened to include horticulture.  

The field day attracted a wide range of people from the kiwifruit industry as well as the wider agri business sector. The day commenced with a powhiri at the Hungahungatoroa Marae and was followed by a series of presentations from Trustees and staff about its history, governance, strategy and business planning. Those attending the field day were also taken on a tour of the property. 

One of the special guests at the field day was the Minister of Māori Development, Nanaia Mahuta. She said the competition helps raise the bar for Māori in terms of horticulture and enables landowners to demonstrate the importance of legacy, partnerships and relationships, and holding on to their whenua. She says that post-Covid 19, Māori producers are going to make a significant contribution to the future of  New Zealand.  

Ratahi Cross, Ngai Tukairangi Trust Chairman, says he was delighted with the field day. He says they are a legacy handed down from Lord Bledisloe and Sir Apirana Ngata and this brings huge mana to the event. He says being related to Sir Apirana made it very special for him being a part of the competition and to showcase their responsibility to this magic history.  

Ahuwhenua Trophy Management Committee chairman Kingi Smiler says it was a special and historic day for Māori to have their efforts in the horticultural sector recognised. He says Māori are major contributors to the wealth generated by the sector. It is estimated that Māori own more than ten percent of the kiwifruit plantings in NZ and this is increasing. 

Smiler praised Ngai Tukairangi for its organisation of the field day and says they have set a benchmark for others who enter this competition in the future. He says field days are a great way of showcasing the achievements of growers and farmers and people can see at first-hand how an operation works.

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