Crowds of Maori farmers attend the Ahuwhenua Māori Awards of Excellence

Wī Pere Trust won the Ahuwhenua 2022 trophy on the night. Photo / Alphapix

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Hundreds of people gathered in Napier last week to celebrate the Ahuwhenua Māori awards for excellence in agriculture for beef and mutton.

The Ahuwhenua Trophy recognizes and celebrates business excellence in New Zealand’s important pastoral and horticultural sectors.

Each year, the competition alternates the categories milk, sheep and cattle and, more recently, horticulture.

The trophy has three trustees who are Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and CEO of Te Puni Kōkiri. They delegate the conduct of the competition to the management committee of the Ahuwhenua Trophy.

Committee chairwoman Nukuhia Hadfield said support from sponsors has been unwavering, given a difficult year of Covid and extreme weather events.

O’Connor backed this up by saying that the whenua is indeed under immense pressure.

“It’s been wet, we’ve seen slips, washed out roads and soils and immense pressure on our waterways. But the whenua is connected to the planet and the planet is also under pressure.

“So we have a responsibility to make our bid for the 3 million New Zealanders who rely on the whenua for a better future, because if we think we can care for the whenua and ignore the planet, we are dreaming,” said O’Connor.

But beyond nature’s cry for help, it was a night to celebrate what is being done for her recovery.

Wī Pere Trust won the 2022 Ahuwhenua Trophy. They farm 6500 hectares in the Whatatutu area of ​​Gisborne.

President Alan Haronga says the late Wī Pere experienced firsthand the devastating effects of colonization and the loss of Maori land.

As a politician of some 28 years, he advocated strongly for the maintenance and development of land and Maori ownership and control.

“That’s the legacy he left us,” says Haronga.

Onuku Māori Land Trust of Rerewhakaaitu, Rotorua was also one of the finalists for the trophy.

According to administrator Ken Raureti, their history is integral to how their farms are operated today.

“You arrive at the eruption of Tarawera, everything was wiped out and we did not stay. In our absence, the Crown then took the opportunity to acquire our lands, then partitioned them and offered them to the soldiers returning from the wars to establish new lives.

“The pain of this is that our people were not allowed to vote for these petition blocks which are all on our lands,” Raureti said.

Established in 1917, Hereheretau station was Whakakii’s third trophy runner-up, Wairoa. It was originally created to help Maori veterans of the First World War.

Julliane Ceville of the Maori Soldiers Committee says that through the success of the farm they are working alongside iwi whenua to continue their responsibility to improve the welfare of Maori farmers and their whānau as an expression of rights Maori and equal citizenship.

“Like our tūpuna, we are navigators and we are taught to use the sun and stars to help us understand where we are and where we are going. We are all navigators and leaders in the pursuit of excellence in the world. Maori agriculture,” Ceville said. .

The wonderful event honored the Maori culture which is rooted in preserving the land and raising its kararehe (animals), although Hadfield says the job is not done yet.

“I encourage our decision makers and policy writers to not just attend a field day, but to take the time to meet with our farmers throughout the year – to develop relationships and an understanding of what it’s all about. is that being a farmer to learn more about the rural communities we live in and to recognize the economic benefits of what we contribute to Aotearoa,” Hadfield said.

The Maori Economy Report shows that the value of agriculture, forestry and horticulture to Maori is $23.372 billion out of an asset base of $68.689 billion, or about 34 % of our Maori gross domestic production.

It was also a great night for the three Maori Young Farmers finalists, Chloe Butcher-Herries (Ngāti Mahanga) Puhirere Tau (Ngati Porou) and Rameka Edwards (Ngāpuhi)

This award was inaugurated in 2012 for young Maori working in the agricultural sector.

Chloe Butcher-Herries, left, (Ngāti Mahangaoto) and her partner Makita Butcher-Herries.  Photo / Alphapix.nz
Chloe Butcher-Herries, left, (Ngāti Mahangaoto) and her partner Makita Butcher-Herries. Photo / Alphapix.nz

Proudly representing the mana of women and the power of takatāpui, Chloe Butcher Berries (30) received this honor. She is from Nāgti Mahanga and works as an assistant manager at Newstead Farm for bull and beef.

She has a special understanding and experience of the agricultural sector in a field where men predominate, and in her acceptance speech gave her wife extra credit for the fruits of her labor.

“My ataahua, my backbone, my wife, Makita. She puts up with my smelly work clothes and cooks bad food,” she says.

Next year the competition will be for horticulture and will see the celebration of 90 years since its inception. Registration is now open and will take place in Tauranga on June 9th.

About Keneth T. Graves

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