MIL - Whiritoa Orchards - field day

L-R (back Row): Rex Anderson (Whiritoa Property Manager), Ray Hiki (Whiritoa Canopy Supervisor), Paki Nikora and Parearau Nikora (Ahuwhenua Trophy Kaumatua) ; L-R (Front Row): Helen Scott (Whiritoa Orchard Manager) and Rana Paul (Whiritoa Kaimahi)

Despite the weather, a crowd of over 200 attended the field day yesterday of Māori Investments Limited (MIL) – Whiritoa Orchards, based at Te Teko in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.

MIL – Whiritoa Orchards is one of three finalists in this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy for excellence in Māori horticulture. The field days are an integral part of the competition as they allow members of the public to come and hear about an entity and how it has made it through to the finals of this prestigious competition.

Helen Scott, Whiritoa Orchard Manager

Guests were welcomed onto Kokohinau Marae where they heard presentations from members of the MIL Board and staff about the operation. These were held in the wharanui, O Ruataupare, as the heavy rain in recent days had caused some flooding in the orchard. But later visitors were taken by bus to the orchards where, thanks to a break in the weather, they were able to tour the site and hear from Orchard Manager Helen Scott and Property Manager, Rex Anderson.

Among the guests at the field day was the Minister for Māori Development, Hon Willie Jackson who told guests that the Ahuwhenua Trophy awards is something to be really proud of. He says he loves attending the field days and awards dinner, and that it’s one of the highlights of his ministerial portfolio.

John O’Brien, Chairman, Māori Investments Limited Board

MIL Board Chair, John O’Brien described the field day as fantastic and says the good turnout was quite unexpected given all the rain that fell in the days prior. He says they had to pivot at the last minute to hold the presentations at the historic Kokohinau Marae rather than on-orchard, but that Kokohinau was a very appropriate place to stage their presentations given its history with MIL.

John O’Brien says while all the fruit in the orchards has been harvested, it was not an easy task given the wet weather. He says other adverse events such as hail and frost caused problems for MIL this past season.

Nukuhia Hadfield, Chair of the Ahuwhenua Trophy Management Committee, congratulated MIL for staging an excellent field day. She says visitors were impressed with the presentations given by the team. She says people were mindful that they had suffered damage in last year’s frost, and in the recent cyclones. Nukuhia says MIL – Whiritoa Orchards have carried on however, taking positive steps for their business despite these adverse events.

Nukuhia Hadfield thanked all the finalists for working to some challenging deadlines to meet the demands of being an entrant in this competition. “We are proud of them and they should be proud of themselves,” she says.

The next field day will be held at the Wi Pere Trust orchard in Gisborne on Thursday 11 May, with the last field day being held at the Ngāi Tukairangi Trust orchard in Hastings on Thursday 18 May, with the ultimate winner being announced on Friday 9 June 2023 at the Mercury Baypark Arena, Tauranga.

The Ahuwhenua Trophy is the most prestigious award for excellence in Māori farming and was inaugurated 90 years ago by the great Māori Leader, Sir Apirana Ngata and the Governor General at the time, Lord Bledisloe. The objective was and still is to encourage Māori farmers to improve their land and their overall farming performance with an emphasis on sustainability. On a three-year rotational basis, the Trophy is competed for by Māori in the horticulture, dairy and sheep and beef sectors. This is only the second time the competition for horticulture has been held.

Media please note:

For further information please contact Peter Burke on 021 2242184 / Photographs are free for use in relation to the competition. Visit or contact John Cowpland, Alphapix: 027 253 3464 /

Finalist Summary: MIL – Whiritoa Orchards

Māori Investments Ltd (MIL) is based in Kawerau and its orchards (Whiritoa) are located in Te Teko. Whiritoa Orchards were purchased in 2016 and 2017. The first orchard to be purchased was Whiritoa Organic (215B Galatea Road) and is approximately 5.37 hectares in size growing organic gold kiwifruit. The second orchard is Whiritoa Gold (207 Galatea Road) approximately 6.84 canopy hectares, located beside Whiritoa Organic. MIL undertook significant work to remove some structures over the canopy, and both orchards are managed in accordance with tikanga Māori. Managed by Orchard Manager, Helen Scott, MIL currently employs seven permanent staff on-orchard. All seasonal workers are local and contractors only come in during the harvest season. The orchards can employ up to 20 fixed term employees during the peak seasons.

Our thanks to our valued Ahuwhenua Trophy sponsors: Te Puni Kōkiri, Ministry for Primary Industries, Te Tumu Paeroa, BNZ, NZ Mãori Tourism, Horticulture New Zealand, Ballance Agri-Nutrients, Fruitfed Supplies (PGG Wrightson), Plant & Food Research, Zespri, BDO, Massey University, FMG, New Zealand Fruitgrowers Charitable Trust, WorkSafe and Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

A big thanks also to sponsors of the Ahuwhenua Young Māori Grower Award: Te Puni Kōkiri, Te Pūkenga Work Based Learning Limited (Trading as Primary ITO), Te Tumu Paeroa, United Fresh New Zealand Incorporated, Muka Tangata People, Food and Fibre Workforce Development Council, WorkSafe and NZ Apples and Pears Incorporated.

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