2024 Ahuwhenua Trophy Winner Announced

Wairarapa Moana ki Pouakani Incorporation (WMI) based at Mangakino in the central North Island is this year’s winner of the coveted Ahuwhenua Trophy for the top Māori dairy farm.

The Minister for Māori Development, the Hon Tama Potaka made the announcement at an awards dinner in Hamilton attended by 850 people on Friday 17 May, with guests including the Prime Minister the Rt. Honourable Chris Luxon, Kiingi Tuheitia and Royal Consort Makau Ariki Atawhai, Sir Tumu and Lady Susan Te Heuheu, along with other Ministers, as well as diplomats from the United Kingdom, Ireland and the European Union. Also attending were representatives of central and local government, agribusiness leaders, sponsors of the awards, previous winners and whānau from all the finalists.

Minister Potaka presented the trophy to WMI Chair, Kingi Smiler, alongside fellow Ahuwhenua Trophy Trustee Dave Samuels, CEO of Te Puni Kōkiri, the Hon Nicola Willis, Minister of Finance, and Glenn Webber, Acting Director-General at the Ministry for Primary Industries, who also presented the gold medal and historic winner’s certificate.

WMI consists of 12 dairy units across 4,300ha, plus three dairy support units comprising 1,900ha and two forestry blocks totalling 6,100ha. They had entered just one of its 12 farms in the competition – Farm 4, and this was the winning farm. The property has a milking platform of 300ha, milking 980 cows and producing 416,000 kgMS. WMI produce about five million kilograms of milk solids from their 12,000-cow herd and are the largest supplier to milk processor Miraka Ltd. The farm operates within the top 5% of the industry benchmarks and operates a high care, high efficiency model where its environmental footprint has reduced by 30% and this work is supported by applying the Mauri Compass Model on improving water quality.

Hon Tama Potaka described the Ahuwhenua Trophy as the most prestigious award in Māori farming that acknowledges and celebrates business excellence in New Zealand’s important pastoral and horticultural sectors. He says for Māori the award is a demonstration of success and pride, but also a demonstration of identity which is inextricably linked into land, seas, forests, mountains and rivers.

Minister Potaka says there is a real conviction among Māori farmers that they have an intergenerational responsibility for the future of their land and that this will not be reduced by the ups and downs of the current economic climate.

Kingi Smiler, Chair of WMI, said after winning the competition he was both elated and relieved, adding it was a tough competition being up against Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board. He says he takes a lot of pride in winning and it is a reward for all the WMI whānau, as they have a very dedicated team who do a lot of work around strategy, planning and execution, and it is this teamwork that makes these things happen.

“Personally, I like a challenge, and meeting that challenge requires attention to detail. It’s great how our team works together and in doing so, that they have managed to achieve this award,” he says.

The Ahuwhenua Trophy Chair, Nukuhia Hadfield congratulated WMI on winning the trophy, saying Farm 4, managed by Kim Turner, was a top performing unit in every respect and a deserved winner of the competition. The standard of excellence of the entire WMI operation is model which all dairy farmers should look at and take note.

She congratulated both finalists saying they exhibited the qualities that make us proud to be farmers and proud to be Māori. She says both have carried on the fortitude of their tupuna to change their iwi and hapū outcomes from adversity to success and excellence.

Wiinners: Wairarapa Moana ki Pouakani Incorporation https://photoshelter.alphapix.co.nz/gallery-image/AHU24-Awards-Dinner-Hamilton/G0000yyWF94KnsY0/I0000aAPM3jFb430/C00006Dts1SDfNgw

Ahuwhenua Trophy Trustee, the Hon Tama Potaka, with WMI Chair, Kingi Smiler https://photoshelter.alphapix.co.nz/gallery-image/AHU24-Awards-Dinner-Hamilton/G0000yyWF94KnsY0/I0000_9zVbWx6hRI/C00006Dts1SDfNgw

Wairarapa Moana ki Pouakani Incorporation

The story of the formation of Wairarapa Moana ki Pouakani Incorporation (WMI) and the ownership of some 30,486 acres of the Pouakani 2 Block in Mangakino, South Waikato has its origins in the colonisation of the Wairarapa after 1840. Wairarapa Moana hapū had valuable landholdings and customary fishing rights for tuna in and around Lake Wairarapa, however by the late 1800s continual pressure from farmer settlers and Crown coercion ultimately led to the hapū gifting the lake to the Crown in 1896 in exchange for other lands in the Wairarapa.

The Crown did not honour the original agreement and were not prepared to source lands locally in Wairarapa, so in 1915 with great reluctance the hapū leaders at that time accepted the land known as the Pouakani 2 Block in Mangakino.

  Access to the land was only made available in 1946 as a result of the building of the Maraetai dam by the Ministry of Works, who had commenced major works without seeking the consent of the WMI landowners. The crown also acquired 2,000 acres of the Pouakani 2 Block under the Public Works Act for the dam infrastructure.

  For the period from 1947 to 1983 the Pouakani lands were developed by Māori Affairs Department under the Māori Land Development Scheme first set up by Ta Apirana Ngata in 1929. The first whānau from the Wairarapa moved to Mangakino in 1948 to begin farming. The block was initially developed into twenty 100 acre dairy units and two large sheep and beef units with the remaining lands planted in radiata pine.

  So, it took some 87 years since the gifting of the Lake to the Crown, before the owners finally had control of their own whenua.

  WMI currently consists of 12 dairy units across 4,300ha, three dairy support units comprising 1,900 ha and two forestry blocks totalling 6,100ha. It aims to produce five million milksolids from its 12,000 cow herd and is the largest supplier to milk processor Miraka Ltd, of which WMI is a cornerstone shareholder.

  Today 128 years later WMI continues under the stewardship of the mokopuna of the original 230 owners, Kingi Smiler (Chair), Te Horipo Karaitiana (Deputy Chair), Anne Carter, Sonya Rimene and Brad Tatere. The Committee’s aspiration is to continue to nurture their taonga for future generations guided by the overarching philosophy of kaitiakitanga.

  WMI has entered one of its dairy units into the Ahuwhenua Trophy Competition, which has a milking platform of 300 hectares, milking 980 cows and producing 416,000 kg/MS and has returned an average of $5,500 per hectare over the past 3 years. This farm is managed by Kim Turner and her 2IC, Haley Webber.

  With a strong focus on optimising both economic and environmental performance, WMI has comprehensive business and environmental plans, aimed at building a sustainable and resilient business. WMI also provides cultural and social investment to support the well-being of our tipuna marae, our owners and wider whānau, as well as the local community in Mangakino and Wairarapa.

WMI Farm 4 Manager, Kim Turner https://photoshelter.alphapix.co.nz/gallery-image/AHU24-Awards-Dinner-Hamilton/G0000yyWF94KnsY0/I00006LS3s7W9BjI/C00006Dts1SDfNgw

Wiinners: Wairarapa Moana ki Pouakani Incorporation https://photoshelter.alphapix.co.nz/gallery-image/AHU24-Awards-Dinner-Hamilton/G0000yyWF94KnsY0/I0000PQYEm7hhEQc/C00006Dts1SDfNgw

For further information please contact Peter Burke, 021 2242184 - peterj@true-to-ireland.com.

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:

Platinum: Te Puni Kōkiri and Ministry for Primary Industries
Gold: Te Tumu Paeroa, BNZ, Dairy NZ and NZ Mãori Tourism

Silver: Ballance Agri-Nutrients, PGG Wrightson, AgResearch, Fonterra and LIC

Bronze: BDO, Affco, Massey University, Ecolab, FMG, Ministry of Business and Innovation and Employment
Other: FarmIQ Systems and Kono Beverages.

A big thanks also to sponsors of the Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award: Te Tumu Paeroa, Te Puni Kōkiri, Te Pūkenga | Primary ITO, Dairy NZ, and MSD Animal Health.

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