2023 Ahuwhenua Trophy Finalists Announced

Back L-R:John O’Brien, Rex Anderson, Wayne Hall, Ratahi Cross, Te Hira Pere, Hon Willie Jackson Front L-R:Ray Hiki, Helen Scott, Trudy Meredith, Riri Ellis, Kingi Smiler

The finalists in this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy for the top Māori horticulturalists have been announced at a special function held at Parliament today by the Minister of Māori Development, Hon Willie Jackson. The finalists are:

  • Ngāi Tukairangi Trust
  • MIL – Whiritoa Orchards
  • Wi Pere Trust

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.

Nukuhia Hadfield, Chair of the Ahuwhenua Trophy Management Committee, says the competition committee is very mindful of the disastrous consequences of Cyclone Gabrielle, not to mention the numerous other adverse weather events that have affected the sector in the past six months. She says that before Cyclone Gabrielle struck, the judges were able to visit the properties of all the entrants and selected three excellent finalists. Nukuhia Hadfield says the current situation means likely changes to the judging process, however all agree that it is possible to hold the competition and determine a winner. “We have selected three incredible finalists, all of whom could be worthy winners of the Ahuwhenua Trophy for Horticulture. Before Cyclone Gabrielle struck, they had to deal with the ongoing effects of Covid-19, shortages of labour and logistical issues. They have already proved their resilience and determination to work their way through adversity, although dealing with the impact of Cyclone Gabrielle is a much higher mountain to climb,” she says.

Nukuhia Hadfield says the finalists along with all the other entrants have made a significant contribution to the economic success of Aotearoa which is not widely known or recognised. The aim of the Ahuwhenua Trophy competition is to follow the vision of Sir Apirana Ngata and Lord Bledisloe by changing this narrative and showcasing our success to the wider public. The winner will be announced at the awards dinner held on 9 June 2023 at 2023 at the Trustpower Baypark Stadium, in Tauranga

Finalist Summaries

Please note due to the current impact of Cyclone Gabrielle full profiles for each finalist will be made available to media and posted on our website in due course.

Ngāi Tukairangi Trust   Ngāi Tukairangi Trust has orchard operations in four regions across the country. Our largest orchard operation is situated near Hastings in the Hawke’s Bay, which is a large-scale well-run horticultural business, with a total planted area of 106ha in 2022, mostly G3 and the remainder in apples. The land was purchased by the Trust in 2017 and compliments its other kiwifruit operations based in Kerikeri and in the Bay of Plenty where the head office of the Trust is situated. Our Heretaunga kiwifruit operations are unique in that they are entirely covered by overhead cloth. It is the largest area of overhead shelter within the country, offering protection against wind and hail, whilst the Hawke’s Bay’s winter provides optimal chilling and the potential for organic production in the future.​

Ngāi Tukairangi Trust was a finalist in the inaugural 2020 horticulture competition with its Matapihi orchard near Tauranga.

L-R: Liam Sykes (Apple Manager), Makita Butcher-Herries (People and Culture Adviser) & Richard Pentreath (Regional Orchard Manager).

MIL – Whiritoa Orchards

Maori 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 Maori. 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.

L-R: Rex Anderson (Property Manager), Helen Scott (Orchard Manager) & Ray Hiki (Orchard Supervisor).

Wi Pere Trust

Located in Gisborne, Wi Pere Trust Horticulture consists of 79ha of permanent fruit crops. This area is made up of 26ha of Gold kiwifruit (11ha of which is organic), 4ha of persimmons, 15ha of citrus, 4ha of blueberries and 20ha of Rockitt and 10ha Tarzi of apples. Three separate orchards combine to make up the diverse horticultural operation: Toroa orchard at Waerenga-a-Hika, Tangihanga orchard at Waituhi and Manutuke orchard at Manutuke. Wi Pere Horticulture is managed by General Manager Wayne Hall, with eight full-time staff and employees up to 85 casual workers at key times.

L-R: Hector Pere, Te Hira Pere, Alan Haronga, Kingi Smiler, Trudy Meredith, Wayne Hall (GM Horticulture), Chris Torrie, Eddie Collins (Orchard Manager).

Field Days

Please note these dates are to be confirmed in light of the ongoing assessment of the impact of Cyclone Gabrielle. Further information will be issued in due course.

Media please note:

For further information please contact Peter Burke, 021 2242184 - peterj@true-to-ireland.com. Please do not contact the finalists at this stage while they are dealing with the priorities they face as a result of Cyclone Gabrielle.

Ahuwhenua Trophy Key Contacts

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

Our thanks to our valued Ahuwhenua Trophy sponsors: Te Puni Kōkiri, the 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 and WorkSafe.

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 and Muka Tangata People, Food and Fibre Workforce Development Council.

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