There was standing room only at the Wanganui Racecourse Eulogy Lounge for the Ātihau Whanganui Incorporation annual general meeting on Friday.

Candidates standing for election to the Ātihau board this year are Brendon Te Tiwha Puketapu and Keria Ponga, who are standing for re-election, and new candidates Steph Osborne, Hayden Potaka and Chris Kumeroa.

Shareholders were able to register and vote at the meeting or by postal voting.

Formed in 1969, the incorporation, known as AWHI, came together after a Māori Land Court order to return the governance and management of 42,000ha of land to the original inhabitants of the area, the Whanganui Iwi.

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The land runs from Whanganui through the backcountry to Ohakune and there are more than 9000 shareholders or whānau.

Ātihau Whanganui reported a net surplus of $3.1m for the year ending June 30, 2018, and chief executive Andrew Beijeman reported $21.6m total revenue.

AWHI oversees the care of about 75,000 breeding sheep, 4000 beef cows, 700 dairy cows, 2400 beehives and 728ha of established woodlots.

Sustainability and environmental care are central to AWHI's philosophy, incorporating care for delicate ecosystems and native flora and fauna.

Chairperson Mavis Mullens expressed a sense of satisfaction that AWHI had been able to embrace new ideas and practices while staying true to the concept of morimori or care.

"Working as a whānau for the greater benefit of all brings me real pleasure on a personal level and I look forward to the year to come," she said.

Mullins said she looked forward to marking AWHI's 50th year in 2020 and celebrating how far the business had come.