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.
Pukepoto Farm Trust, with just over a thousand owners, is situated near the tiny settlement of Ongarue about 20 minutes north of the central North Island town of Taumarunui. Most people understand Pukepoto to mean little hill but in this case it means blue clay. The farm is a typical hill country farm with high steep hills and gullies that drop down to feed the Ongarue and Ohura Rivers, and ultimately the Whanganui River.
The property consists of 1400 hectares of land of which just over 1000ha are farmed. About 100ha are covenanted under the Ngā Whenua Rāhui scheme. There is 62ha in plantation pine and the remainder of the unfarmed land is scrub; much of which is being retired to prevent erosion. The Trust has worked closely with Horizons Regional Council in this regard. Currently the property winters a flock of 6000 Romney ewes and a herd of 300 mainly Angus cattle.
The judges who selected Pukepoto Farm Trust as a finalist say they were impressed with the collaborative approach to governance by the Trust and the way they use their mix of skills to full advantage. The judges also praised the Trust for its financial management, the setting of clear and simple key performance indicators and its commitment to improving animal performance. The judges also commented positively on the steps the Trust had taken to achieve sustainability and environmental outcomes.
The Ahuwhenua Trophy Management Committee chairman Kingi Smiler says Pukepoto Farm Trust’s financial performance over the last three years has been outstanding and as a farm rated in the top 20% in their land class.
The whānau of the Trust have a strong connection with their land and this bonding and respect for their farm has, and will continue to serve them well into the future.
Smiler says all three field days have been very professionally run by the three finalists and the Ahuwhenua Trophy Management Committee recognises this effort. This is what you would expect from three of the top performing Māori sheep and beef farmers in the country.
Smiler commented that the judges now have a lot to ponder and he, like others, awaits with great interest their decision when the winner is announced at the awards dinner in Whangarei on May 26.