At the end of May, the winner of the Ahuwhenua Trophy for the top Māori sheep and beef farm will be announced at a gala dinner in Gisborne.
They are Whangara Farms, Gisborne; Te Awahohonu Forest Trust – Gwavas Station, Tikokino near Hastings and Kiriroa Station – Eugene & Pania King, Motu, near Gisborne.
The finalists were announced at Parliament yesterday by the Minister of Agriculture, Damien O’Connor.
The Ahuwhenua Trophy is awarded 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.
Ahuwhenua Trophy Management Committee chairman, 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.
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.