2014 Ahuwhenua Trophy

Te Puni Kōkiri supports the Ahuwhenua Competition - recognising its contribution for strengthening economic wealth

Published: Rāhina, 16 Pipiri, 2014 | Monday, 16 June 2014

A Taranaki Māori Trust Te Rua o Te Moko Ltd has won the prestigious 2014 Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Māori Excellence in Farming Award for Dairy.

Te Puni Kōkiri Chief Executive Michelle Hippolite with Dion Maaka, chair of Te Rua o Te Moko Ltd

The Minister of Māori Affairs, the Hon Dr Pita Sharples made the announcement at a special awards evening held in Tauranga in June and the trophy was presented to the Chairman of Te Rua o Te Moko Ltd, Dion Maaka by Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae.

Te Puni Kōkiri is a Gold Sponsor of the Ahuwhenua Trophy and our Chief Executive Michelle Hippolite sits on the three-person Management Board.

“I’m proud of the support Te Puni Kōkiri offers this event," Michelle says.

"We are working towards ways in which Māori economic wealth is thriving through high-performing people, assets and enterprises. Competitions like Ahuwhenua support that work.

“Ahuwhenua is a shining example of our partnership commitment where the Crown, iwi and Māori collectives enjoy relationships that strengthen their economic interests,” Michelle says.

Her visit to the field day at Te Rua oTe Moko Ltd. in Normanby, just north of Hāwera was a great opportunity to see the farm in action and to learn the keys to its success.

“Like the other finalists, what’s special about Te Rua o Te Moko is that it’s an amalgam of four separate Māori trusts that have combined their resources to create an economically and environmentally sustainable dairy operation.”

As well as operating as a commercial dairy farm, Te Rua o Te Moko Ltd. also has a training arm for descendants of shareholders with the first eight graduates taking up jobs on dairy farms.

Te Puni Kōkiri manager Peter Little, has a long association with the Ahuwhenua competition and land management issues. He attended all three finalist field days including visits to Himiona Farm in Te Teko and Ngakauroa Farm in Awakeri.

Testament to the success of the Ahuwhenua competition, he says the field days were well attended with a noticeable presence of representatives from both the finance and commercial agribusiness sectors.

“We are seeing a general recognition of the influence of good Māori agribusiness now.”

Te Puni Kōkiri congratulates Te Rua o te Moko for its success, but says Michelle Hippolite, Māori farming was the real winner.

“What has heartened me enormously is hearing how Māori farmers are embracing our history of innovation and morphing it into modern day best-practices in areas like governance, environmental sustainability, and skill development.

Te Rua o te Moko

Te Rua o Te Moko Ltd is situated close to the town of Hawera and runs 500 kiwi cross cows on a 170ha effective milking platform. It is a highly successful operation, which is now into its fifth season and is producing 190,000 kgMS. What is so special about this operation is that it is an amalgam of four separate Māori trusts who have all combined their resources to create an economically and environmentally sustainable dairy operation.

Bringing the blocks together into one large farm marked the beginning of a new era for the 1,100 landowners and has given them an exciting vision for the future. Individually the blocks were too small to be farmed economically, but as a collective unit they are able to provide a much better financial return for their owners. As well as operating as a commercial dairy farm, Te Rua o Te Moko Ltd also runs a training operation for descendants of shareholders that whakapapa back to the land as well as other young people. This is run by Land Based Training and last year saw the first eight young people graduate and then obtain jobs on dairy farms. This year another eight young people are in training.

The Chairman of the Ahuwhenua Trophy Management Committee which runs the awards, Kingi Smiler says Te Rua o Te Moko Ltd was a shining example of how Māori are collaborating with small trusts cooperating to create larger more economically viable enterprises which serve local people and New Zealand better.

Māori Agribusiness Coming of Age

Kingi Smiler says Māori agribusiness has now become a powerhouse of the New Zealand economy and has truly come of age. He says the proof of that is that every day Māori trusts and incorporations are being besieged by an army of consultants, advisors and investors wanting to be a part of the action. "One of the reasons for this is that trusts such as Te Rua o Te Moko Ltd, the other finalists and a large number of others have lifted their game and have become highly successful multi million dollars businesses. In the early years of the competition the winners were held up as great role models. The modern day finalists and ultimate winners are the same. Today they can benchmark successfully with all farms – not just Māori farms. They are adopting all the technologies that modern day farming has to offer. But they have not compromised their quest for financial gain at the expense of retaining Māori values," he says.

Kingi Smiler says Māori and all New Zealanders have every reason to feel proud and celebrate the success of Māori agribusiness as exemplified in the winners and finalists of this year's Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Māori Excellence in Farming Award for Dairy.

Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer of the Year

Wiremu Reid (Te Rarawa) celebrates his award with sponsors including Te Puni Kōkiri.

As well as the main competition, Te Puni Kōkiri is also a sponsor of the related Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer of the Year, which this year was won by Winton Sharemilker Wiremu Reid (Te Rarawa).

“As Māori we naturally have many key attributes that make us successful farmers. We have a good sense of humour; make light of any situation no matter how stressful; we have an easy going attitude where we give anything a go; and also hardness to stick it out and get the job done,” Wiremu said in his acceptance speech.

This addition to the Ahuwhenua Trophy awards was established in 2012 and in 2014 Te Puni Kōkiri manager Peter Little was lead judge.

“The high calibre of entrants to this competition was another feather in the cap of the Ahuwhenua Trophy,” Peter says.

“The judges were very impressed with rangatahi who have entered. The talent is extremely good - from farm assistants, shed managers, herd managers and sharemilkers - right the way through.”

“The ability of young Māori to progress in the dairy industry is theirs for the taking,” Peter says.

Further information about the Ahuwhenua Trophy is available on its website.