Wednesday, 05 June 2019 09:28

The Kings of Ahuwhenua

Written by  Peter Burke
Eugene and Pania King. Eugene and Pania King.

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.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced their win and presented the trophy late last month at an awards function in Gisborne. At least 600 people attended.

The other finalists were Whangara Farms located 35km north of Gisborne, and Te Awahohonu Forest Trust – Gwavas Station at Tikokino, 50km west of Hastings.

Eugene and Pania King are the second couple in the King whānau to win the trophy. Eugene’s sister Nukuhia and her husband Bart Hadfield won the competition in 2015, and brother Ron and his wife Justine were finalists in 2017.

The hall erupted with cheers and applause at the news and the couple and their whanau walked to the stage to receive the large trophy. A haka was performed on stage. 

Emotions were high and tears flowed and the pair were unusually lost for words.

Eugene King says they were rapt to win the award and buzzing with excitement. It all seemed surreal and they needed a few days for it to sink in. 

Pania King says they felt humble to be winners of the award, an acknowledgement of the work they and their whanau had done for 18 years, in particular the last six years since they bought Kiriroa Station.

“We are proud tonight of what we have achieved, and proud of our wider whanau,” she told Rural News. “We like to benchmark ourselves and set and achieve goals and think we are performing very well. It’s not just our business, it’s our life.”

Amidst the excitement a pragmatic Eugene pointed out that on Sunday they would be scanning lambs and getting right back to work on the farm. 

Sharing in the glory and excitement were the couple’s four sons who did a haka and put their hands on the trophy.

“They were really excited. I looked at their faces when they called out our names and our farm and it was just like when I take the chocolate cake out of the oven,” says Pania.

Earlier in the evening, when the pair were presented with their finalist medals, Eugene King paid tribute to the men who inaugurated the Ahuwhenua Trophy – Lord Bledisloe and Sir Apirana Ngata. He says their foresight to encourage skill and proficiency in Maori farming is evident today in the wider agri sector. 

He had words of encouragement for the finalists in the Young Maori Farmer competition, saying they are the future of the industry. 

But his final tribute was to his wife Pania.

“You are a wonderful wife – the driving force of a lot of the things we do within our whanau, our business and community. Your passion, commitment and loyalty, your aroha and your hard-nosed approach to things keep me on the straight and narrow. Pania, I love you to the moon and back.” 

Pania was quick to respond, praising her “lovely, supportive hardworking sometimes mis-mothered husband”. 

“Entering Ahuwhenua has been a positive and humbling experience. At times challenging, but it has made us an even stronger team,” she said.

More like this

Trophy win elates trust boss

Tataiwhetu Trust chairman Paki Nikora is elated to have won this year’s Ahuwhenua trophy for the top Maori dairy farm.

Tuhoe Farms wins top award

Tataiwhetu Trust, which runs an organic dairy farm in the Ruatoki Valley south of Whakatane, is the winner of this year’s prestigious Ahuwhenua Trophy for the top Māori dairy farm.

Tech boost for winner

The winner of the 2021 Ahuwhenua trophy, announced this week, will be getting valuable new insights into their dairy herd's health, efficiency and productivity.

Big crowd for final field day

It's three weeks of waiting for the three finalists in this year's Ahuwhenua trophy for dairy, with the winner being announced next month at a gala dinner in New Plymouth.


Guy standing for Ravensdown

Former Agriculture Minister and Horowhenua dairy farmer Nathan Guy is standing for election to the Ravensdown board of directors.

Machinery & Products

Helps tame the wind!

Amazone's recently released WindControl System automatically monitors and adjusts the spreading pattern to compensate for the effect of the wind…

First Claas patent hits a century

While Claas has registered more than 3,000 patents during its 108-year history, the company is currently celebrating the 100th anniversary…

JD invests in robotics

Global giant Deere and Co has acquired Silicon Valley start-up company Bear Flag Robotics, which specialises in autonomous driving technologies…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Too many hits?

OPINION: Well-known professional protestor, John Minto has run off at the mouth without checking his facts.

Good question!

A mate of the Hound's thinks it was more than a bit dodgy when DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter