The 2012 Ahuwhenua Trophy competition is now in full swing and Cedric Nepia, Te Puni Kōkiri’s designated ‘caretaker’ of the competition’s two trophies – one for sheep and beef farming and the other for dairying – is ready to take the taonga out on tour once again.
“The security of the mauri of those two trophies is a huge a responsibility,” Cedric says.
Referring to the mauri of the trophies is no understatement. The Ahuwhenua Trophy competition was established in 1932 by the then Minister of Native Affairs Sir Apirana Ngata, and Governor-General Lord Bledisloe for competition amongst ‘Māori farmers and settlers on Native Land Development Schemes’.
When the competition was founded, Ngata was progressing Māori land development initiatives. Initially the competition was only open to farmers in the Waiariki land district. These days the competition attracts entries from properties run by trusts, incorporations and individual Māori farmers that range from successful whānau based farms to large-scale corporate agribusinesses from all around Aotearoa-New Zealand.
Cedric was appointed the inaugural ‘caretaker’ six years ago and his role is not limited to polishing and cleaning the trophies. Cedric’s background in the army, security and experience as a bodyguard meant he was a natural fit for the role – he is ultimately responsible for the security of the trophies.
Tauhara Moana Trust of Taupō, Kapenga M Trust of Rotorua, and Wharepī Whānau Trust of Te Puke, were announced finalists of the Ahuwhenua Trophy – BNZ Māori Excellence in Farming Award Dairy in March.
In late April and early May, each finalist hosted the Ahuwhenua Trophy competition judges at their farms for assessment. Cedric is responsible for ensuring the Dairy Trophy’s safe passage to and from each farm, and again for the Gala Awards dinner.
Lord Bledisloe donated the original cup in 1932, two years after he donated the almost identical, Bledisloe Cup to encourage competition between New Zealand and Australia in rugby. Last year, the New Zealand Rugby Union permitted competition organisers to show the Bledisloe Cup alongside of the two Ahuwhenua Trophies at the launch of the 2012 competition.
“Those cups have a lot of mana, it was amazing to travel the country accompanying those taonga – I hope we can do that again. The whakapapa of this competition is prestigious,” says Cedric.
The Ministers of Native Affairs and Agriculture and ‘the Chief Judge of the Native Land Court and Under-Secretary of the Native Department’ were appointed Trustees of the competition. Their successors, Māori Affairs Minister Hon Dr Pita Sharples, Agriculture Minister Hon David Carter and Te Puni Kōkiri Chief Executive Leith Comer, are the Trustees of the current competition.
One of four major sponsors, Te Puni Kōkiri is proud to once again be involved in the Ahuwhenua Trophy Competition.
The Gala Awards dinner will be on Friday, 8 June 2012 at the Skycity Auckland Convention Centre. Keep up with the Ahuwhenua Trophy – BNZ Māori Excellence in Farming Award competition by visiting the website: www.ahuwhenua.maori.nz, or check out 2011 Ahuwhenua Trophy Sheep and Beef competition on YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/AhuwhenuaTrophy.