Ahuwhenua Trophy – a time to celebrate excellence

Joining the audience of 920 people, a contingent of Te Puni Kōkiri kaimahi were able to celebrate excellence in Māori farming at the Ahuwhenua Trophy awards ceremony held in Tauranga on Friday 9 June.

Published: Rāhina, 12 Pipiri, 2023 | Monday, 12 June 2023

The Ahuwhenua Trophy, the most prestigious award in Māori farming, acknowledges and celebrates business excellence in New Zealand's important pastoral and horticultural sectors.

This competition is held annually, alternating each year between the horticultural and pastoral sectors. This year, the 90th anniversary of the trophy, recognised Māori horticulture growers.

As one of the finalists said during the ceremony, this award acknowledges those who want to grow the best Māori fruit, on the best Māori land, cared for by the best Māori people, in our own unique Māori way.  

Alongside Manatū Ahu Matua (Ministry of Primary Industries), Te Puni Kōkiri is a platinum sponsor of the awards – united in celebrating Māori excellence.


Secretary for Māori Development, and our Chief Executive, Dave Samuels attended the awards dinner.

“I’m proud to support this prestigious award," Mr Samuels said. "It exemplifies Māori achievement in land-based industries where hard work, fortitude and innovation is continually demonstrated. We collectively celebrate those who are creating jobs, engaging rangatahi, and developing new ways of succeeding – driving towards sustainable prosperity for Māori, the whenua, and the wider economy.”  


Representatives from Te Puni Kōkiri on-stage with this year’s Young Māori Grower award winner, Grace Rehu, of Rangitāne, Taranaki

During the ceremony, Dave presented the Young Māori Grower award to Grace Rehu, from Turners and Growers in Puketapu, Hawke’s Bay. The award was inaugurated ten years ago and is designed to recognise the achievements of young Māori in the farming and horticulture sectors. Grace was one of three wāhine finalists.

The highlight of the ceremony was the awarding of the Ahuwhenua Trophy. With three finalists vying for the prestigious award, the 2023 winner was Wi Pere Trust, Gisborne.

Wi Pere Trust was created in 1899 by an Act of Parliament, the Wi Pere Trust was established by Wi Pere, a man ahead of his time – a rangatira, tohunga, soldier, entrepreneur, politician, and legislator. Today, 123 years later, the Trust continues under the stewardship of his mokopuna.   The Trust’s aspiration is to continue to build and grow Wi Pere’s whenua which he fought so hard to retain for his whānau and continue to provide a legacy for current and future generations of his descendants.

Wi Pere Trust were also the winners of the 2022 award – for excellence in Māori sheep and beef farming.

To celebrate and acknowledge 90 years of the trophy, originally launched in 1933 by the Māori leader Sir Apirana Ngata and the Governor General at the time Lord Bledisloe, a new book was launched at the awards dinner too.

Next year’s focus will be dairy farming, with the awards event to be hosted in Kirikiriroa in May 2024.   

Top image: Te Puni Kōkiri and Wi Pere Trust representatives celebrate the Trust’s success as this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy award winners.