Thursday, 06 April 2017 10:55

Maori farmers should strut their stuff

Written by  Peter Burke
The finalists of the Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Maori Excellence in Farming Award at Parliament, Wellington, late last month. Photo by John Cowpland / alphapix. The finalists of the Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Maori Excellence in Farming Award at Parliament, Wellington, late last month. Photo by John Cowpland / alphapix.

Māori don't talk much about the good things they do and don’t talk themselves up enough, says the Minister of Māori Development, Te Ururoa Flavell.

He said this at a function at parliament recently to announce the finalists in the Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Māori Excellence in Farming Award, contested by Māori sheep and beef farmers.

At least 100 people – MPs, business people and government officials – gathered in parliament’s grand hall to hear the finalists, all North Island located: Omapere Rangihamama Trust, Kaikohe; Ron and Buzz King, Puketawa Station, Eketahuna; and Pukepoto Farm Trust, Ongarue near Taumarunui.

Flavell says the Ahuwhenua Trophy awards need to be talked up because, apart from being the premier agricultural award for Māori it carries with it a lot of mana.

“Its history helps highlight the great contribution Maori make to the economy of the country. The finalists should be proud of their achievement in making it to the finals,” he says.

Primary Industry Minister Nathan Guy, presenting the finalists with their medals, said their farms are shining examples of Māori farmers’ commitment to sustainably developing their land for future generations.

Guy expressed pride in the key role Māori play in New Zealand’s primary industries.

“The asset base of the Māori economy is worth over $42 billion, most of it focused on the primary industries. Māori collectively own 40% of forestry land, 38% of fishing quota, and 30% of lamb production, to name a few examples.

“Right across the economy, Māori are successful players and many of their companies and entities are amongst the top performing commercial operations in NZ.”

The chairman of the Ahuwhenua Trophy management committee, Kingi Smiler, says it is great to see again three top-quality sheep and beef farms selected as finalists for the prestigious trophy. All are performing well despite volatile global markets, low prices and the need to adapt to climate change.

“There is something special about our people looking for practical innovative ways to get through adversity and not retreating into their shells to do nothing. They know farming requires managing cycles -- weather or market -- and they take account of this when drawing up their business plans.

“NZ is fortunate to have Māori farmers because it is in their DNA as kaitiaki (guardians) to manage the fragile environment and invest for future generations. This spiritual closeness to the land is vital in a modern society where consumers not only want food, but also assurance that it is produced sustainably and ethically.”

Smiler says Māori agribusiness is in good shape and he believes the Ahuwhenua Trophy has been a major factor in lifting the profile of Māori agribusinesses and showcasing its contribution to the NZ economy.


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