Calling young dairy stars

The search is on for the 2013 Ahuwhenua Young Maori Trainee/Cadet of the Year.

This is the first year the competition has targeted young Maori sheep and beef farmers.

Last year, the inaugural Ahuwhenua Young Maori Trainee/Cadet of the Year competition was held for young Maori dairy farmers, as part of the 2012 Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Maori Excellence in Farming Award.

The Ahuwhenua Young Maori Trainee/Cadet of the Year competition aims to encourage young people into leadership roles and foster personal development and growth.

"We want to celebrate and recognise outstanding achievement and excellence in Maori farming," says Fred Hardy, strategic business development manager at AgITO.

Hardy, who is also a member of the judging panel, says young Maori who enter the competition will be rewarded with an invaluable learning experience and exceptional opportunities.

The 2012 Ahuwhenua Young Maori Dairy Trainee/Cadet of the Year winner, 22-year-old Tangaroa Walker, a farm manager for Toa Farms in Kennington, Southland says: "I want to motivate young Maori by directing them down the path I have followed to show them that the opportunities are out there if you are willing to sacrifice and put in the hard yards."

Walker aims to own a farm and says he knows how he's going to do it. He was also a speaker at the federation's conference, talking about his passion for dairy farming and the benefits he has experienced since taking the title.

Mark Coughlan, a farm assistant at Wairarapa Moana Farms Dairy 2, Mangakino and Tyson Kelly, farm hand at Corboy Farms, Te Awamutu, were runners-up in this year's competition.

Coughlan says he encourages young Maori to enter the competition because it opens doors to so many opportunities.

"It's a great way to kick off your career and it drives you to be successful. Being involved was fun and exciting too," he says.

Hardy says he enjoyed witnessing the positive effects the competition had on these three young men.

"I could see the benefits it brought to their careers, their self-esteem and confidence. It was a thrill discovering young Maori who were focused not only on their own careers, but also on their community and those around them," he says.

"The beauty of the Ahuwhenua Young Maori Trainee/Cadet competition is that the judging process is designed to allow the trainees to show us how good they are - all elements and aspects are taken into consideration and combined to make a decision. We're excited to meet motivated and passionate young Maori sheep and beef trainees in the New Year."

The Ahuwhenua Trophy competition dates back to 1932 when it was established by Sir Apirana Ngata with the support of the then Governor General, Lord Bledisloe.

The awards alternate on an annual basis between beef and sheep and dairy farming. In 2013 the focus is on sheep and beef.

Entries close on January 30. Entry is free and forms are available from the Maori Trustee, Te Puni Kokiri and AgITO websites -, or

The winner will be announced at the Ahuwhenua Trophy Awards evening in Taradale, Hawkes Bay on June 7.

- Hamilton News

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