Ahuwhenua Young Maori Grower Award Winner Announced

MEDIA RELEASE 20 November 2020

The winner of the inaugural Ahuwhenua Young Māori Grower Award is 26 year old Maatutaera Akonga. Maatutaera is of Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungungu descent and is senior leading hand at Llewellyn Horticulture based in Hastings.

Ahuwhenua Young Maori Grower Award Winner AnnouncedMaatutaera Akonga

The announcement was made by Dr Charlotte Severne, the Māori Trustee and Chief Executive of Te Tumu Paeroa at the Ahuwhenua Trophy awards dinner in Rotorua on Friday 20th November 2020.

The two other finalists in the competition were 24 year-old Brandon Cross of Tauranga who works as trainee orchard manager for the large kiwifruit orchard management and post-harvest company Seeka, and 25 year-old Finnisha Tuhiwai who is packhouse manager for Maungatapere Berries located west of Whangarei in a rural town ship of Maungatapere.

Dr Severne presented Maatutaera with the winner's trophy and congratulated him on his achievement. All three finalist were presented with koru trophies and certificates by the sponsors of the award, Te Puni Kokiri, Primary ITO, Te Tumu Paeroa and Horticulture New Zealand.

Award judge Aaron Hunt from Te Tumu Paeroa says the standard of entrants in this, the inaugural competition for horticulture was very high and also reflects the number of young Māori who are making successful careers in horticulture. Aaron says, "Māori have always been involved in the horticulture sector and in recent years they have been involved in significant new enterprises".

As part of the judging process the finalists attended an intensive two day study tour designed to provide a range of insights, inspiration, and experiences across the horticultural sector. This included visits to the Plant and Foods Research centre in Hawke's Bay, other horticultural operations, and an opportunity to meet with Māori leaders involved in the horticultural sector.

More details are at www.ahuwhenuatrophy.maori.nz. Media can contact Peter Burke: 021 224 2183 peterj@true-to-ireland. Photographs are free for use in relation to the competition. Visit www.bit.ly/ahuwhenuatrophy or contact John Cowpland, Alphapix: 027 253 3464 / info@alphapix.co.nz.

A big thanks to sponsors of the Ahuwhenua Young Māori Grower Award: Te Puni Kōkiri, Primary ITO, Te Tumu Paeroa and Horticulture NZ, with support also from New Zealand Apples and Pears