The Wairoa area has suddenly become the centre of farming attention in Hawke's Bay, after taking both major honours at the Ahuwhenua Trophy Maori Excellence in Sheep and Beef Farming Awards.
Bart and Nukuhia Hadfield, who farm family property Mangaroa Station in the Ruakituri Valley northwest of Wairoa, were named winners of the premier Ahuwhenua Trophy, while Hannah Wallace, 22, of Ardkeen, near Frasertown, was named the first female winner of the Young Maori Farmer of the Year Award.
The Hadfields' success was the second time in a row the top award had come to Hawke's Bay, after the 2013 triumph of Te Awahohonu Forest Trust, proprietors of Tarawera Station.
The latest triumphs came at the 2015 Ahuwhenua BNZ Maori Excellence in Sheep and Beef Farming Awards attended by about 650 people in Whanganui on Friday night. Guests included King Tuheitia, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Maori Development Minister and Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell.
Wairoa and the 50km area north, including Tiniroto, dominated the awards, with two of the three finalists in each category.
The other Ahuwhenua Trophy finalists included Tiniroto farmers Marty and Janice Charteris, while 19-year-old Taane Hubbard, of Wairoa, was a Young Farmer finalist.
Mangaroa Station and the Hadfields are a significant farming success story, stemming from the couple's farming of a 3200 stock-unit property near Taihape and Mrs Hadfield's King-whanau operation near Whangamomona.
The resources were pooled in 2001 to lease neighbouring properties Mangaroa in the valley and Ruakaka Station, in the Tiniroto area, with a goal to build equity for family members to buy their own farms.
Mangaroa was purchased in 2002 and equity built by limiting costs, including keeping shearing within the family. Bart Hadfield and his wife's brothers had all been shearers, Bart Hadfield having in 1997 helped set a three-stand lamb shearing world record. The two are well known as organisers of the Wairoa A and P Show shearing championships, and Bart Hadfield is a competition judge.
Hannah Wallace works between the roles of shepherd general on the 1500ha, 5600-stock farm of farm of parents Richard and Harmony Wallace, and with her partner helps manage Rotanui Station.
She has been training with Primary ITO since 2011, completed a Level 4 National Certificate in sheep farming and plans studying for a Diploma in Agribusiness Management with a dream of running her own farm. She also has a close association with the Wairoa A and P Show, the family being involved in the show's rodeo.