After decades out of the limelight, Northland entrants shone in the Ahuwhenua Trophy competition for Maori excellence in farming this year.
The 2430ha Paua Station - one of three sheep and beef properties totalling 5462ha farmed by the Parengarenga Incorporation about 40km south of Cape Reinga - was a finalist in the contest.
And 19-year-old Hemoata Kopa from Matawaia was runner-up in the 2015 Young Maori Sheep and Beef Farmer of the Year competition when the Ahuwhenua Awards were announced at Whanganui last week.
The Ahuwhenua Trophy was won by Barton and Nukuhia Hadfield of Mangaroa Station, with Hannah Wallace of Wairoa taking the Young Maori Sheep and Beef Farmer of the Year title.
But the achievements of the Northlanders who raised the region's profile in the national Maori farming contest is a significant step up, particularly as Northland has had few successes in the past.
Wiremu Matene Naera, of Waiotemarama, won a dairying award in the Ahuwhenua Trophy contest in 1947. Other Northland dairy winners include Eruera Hoera, of Takahue, in 1949; Mrs M Stevens, of Okaihau, in 1954; W Maki, of Takahiwai, in 1961/62; Rawson Wright, of Tapora, 1963/64; T L Jones, Dargaville, 1968/69. Sheep and beef awards went to W Waaka, of Kaikohe, in 1959/60 and to AA Alexander, of Okaihau, in 1970/72.
In 1956, nine blocks of Maori land towards the south of Parengarenga Harbour were amalgamated into one block known as the Parengarenga Toopu, which in 1965 was divided into Parengarenga A, to be developed as forest, and Parengarenga B, to be developed into two farming stations - Paua and Te Rangi.
On March 4, 1965, the Maori Land Court mandated Parengarenga Incorporation, but the Lands and Survey Department administered and controlled the land. The new incorporation appointed trustees whose task was to secure the land back to Maori hands, but it wasn't until 1988 that full control was handed over.
Paua Station as it stands today consists of 2430ha of easy rolling coastal sand country on which are run 2800 (mainly Angus) cattle and 7000 sheep, of which 6100 are ewes with 118 per cent lambing.
The station is now mainly a finishing property and the farming policy dovetails in with 2137ha Te Rangi Station, also owned by the Parengarenga Incorporation based at Te Kao and the leased 900ha Cape View station.
Administering Paua Station has been about increasing stock numbers and having a stock policy which suits the often dry summer conditions of the Far North. Paua Station lambs in June/July and has most of the lambs off the farm by Christmas. This allows them to get premium prices and to take the feed pressure off capital stock in summer.
They are moving from a Perendale X flock to Romneys to gain better returns in lambing while retaining the quality meat and wool.
The station now breeds and finishes Angus bulls and sells them in winter and spring to gain the best price. It's a far cry from the early days when weaners were brought in and finished on the farm.
Infrastructure on Paua Station has been steadily improved with new fences and buildings and with better quality pastures sown.
The farm, thanks to good governance and management, has lifted its game and is another example of property that is realising its potential and hence is another worthy Ahuwhenua Trophy finalist.