Three dairy farms spanning Hauraki and Eastern Bay of Plenty are the finalists in this year's coveted Ahuwhenua Trophy, Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor announced at Parliament today.
They are Pouarua Farms of Ngātea, Tataiwhetu Trust south of Whakatāne, and Tunapahore B2A Incorporation of Ōpōtiki.
"These dairy farms are shining examples of the long-standing commitment of Māori farmers to sustainably developing their whenua and te taiao – the land and the environment – for future generations," O'Connor said.
"They are at the top of their game, providing the inspiration to others to get out and do even better to grow the country."
The Ahuwhenua Trophy – now in its 88th year – is the most prestigious award for Māori farming, and the only one of its kind in the world, celebrating the pursuit of innovation and new approaches by Māori farmers committed to tapping the full potential of their whenua.
The competition alternates each year between the sheep and beef, horticulture, and dairy sectors. This year the competition is for dairy.
"With more land being used in more innovative ways, Māori agribusiness is booming," O'Connor said.
Profits for Māori agribusinesses hit $97 million in 2018, almost double from the year before, the latest Stats NZ figures show.
Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson said the rise of Māori agribusiness was impressive, especially given its unstinting commitment to all aspects of sustainability.
"We are seeing great developments in all productive sectors and a trend of Māori playing an increasingly significant role in producing higher value food and fibre products," Jackson said.
Kingi Smiler, chairman of the Ahuwhenua Trophy Management Committee, agreed and said despite the Covid-19 pandemic, farm gate returns for dairy farmers remained solid and consumers worldwide were looking for high-quality, sustainable products that Kiwi farmers and processing companies produce.
Associate Agriculture Minister Meka Whaitiri congratulated all of the finalists.
"The Government is committed to working with Māori farmers to ensure a valuable future for Aotearoa," Whaitiri said.
Each of the Ahuwhenua Trophy finalists will showcase their properties at public field days in March and April, before a winner was announced in New Plymouth on May 14.
Ahuwhenua Trophy finalists
The farm is located near the township of Ngātea on the Hauraki Plains, close to Thames. The 2,200ha platform comprises 10 farms – nine dairy units and one drystock unit - and is the largest single-owner dairy platform in the Hauraki region. A total of 4,600 cows are milked across 1,775ha and produce approximately 1.65 million kgMS.
This property is located in the Rūātoki Valley south of Whakatāne. They run 432 kiwi cross cows and carry 188 replacement stock on their two support blocks. They milk once-a-day and their herd produces 129,140 kgMS.
Tunapahore B2A Incorporation
The farm consists of 376ha located at Hawai and Tōrere on the famous State Highway 35 on the east coast of the North Island. The nearest main town is Ōpōtiki. The milking platform is 132ha, with 385 cows producing 125,940 kgMS.
Field days will be held
Pouarua Farms - Thursday March 25
Tataiwhetu Trust - Thursday April 1
Tunapahore B2A Incorporation - Thursday April 8