The Atihau-Whanganui Incorporation's farm training programme is moving up a notch to provide live-in accommodation in 2017.

A large house is being built on Te Pā Station in Oruakukuru Rd near Raetihi, to house the students.

They will learn some te reo (Māori language) and whakapapa (genealogy) and grow their cultural identity - as well as becoming able young shepherds.

Incorporation chairwoman Mavis Mullins, CEO Andrew Beijeman and board member Toni Waho are excited about this new step.


The six students they are seeking for next year will get standard agricultural training - with a cultural difference.

"It's based on a marae. All the students are Māori, and the support staff are Māori. We will build a Māori component to the training," Mr Waho said.

The evolving Awhiwhenua Training Programme is a package for "changing people's lives", Mr Beijeman said.

"We will make sure people can leave us with two references and the ability to get a job."

Next year's students will live in on Te Pā Station and end the year with Level 3 agriculture qualifications. In the following year most of them will continue to live-in but commute to work on one of the other incorporation stations, while completing a Level 4 qualification.

One of them will work at Te Hou, the coastal Rangitikei farm the incorporation has a financial stake in.

By the end of that they will be "very employable junior shepherds", Mr Beijeman said. They can either continue working for the incorporation, or leave to get more experience.

"It would be great if some of them stayed. It would also be great if some of them went off and got some more experience with other farms and returned to Awhi two to three years down the track."


Mr Waho said the aim was for people who belong to the land to run it - and to be qualified. At the moment 38 per cent of those working incorporation land are uri (descendants).

The building going up on Te Pā Station is a very special one, built with the traditional Māori rituals. It's a very large house, with accommodation for male and female students.

They will get a day's teaching each week at Ngā Mōkai Marae, with Land Based Training technical tutor Derek Priest. Robyn Matthews will be their practical on-farm tutor.

Also at the house will be a kaiawhi (helper) who will supervise living arrangements according to Ngāti Rangi protocols.

They will get "sumptuous meals", Mr Waho said, and be well cared for and healthy. The students will take turns to be on home duty for a week - cooking, gardening and making other preparations.

After the first 20 weeks they will be given a working dog.

Land Based Training is a private training establishment. Descendants will have their tuition fees paid by the incorporation, and can also get a student allowance if they meet criteria.

Their board will cost $150 a week. Mr Beijeman wants to ensure they can get enough farm work on Saturdays to pay their board for the week.

"We want them to get through with as little strain as possible."

The programme won't make money for the incorporation, but it will have other benefits.

"We will have lots of potential employees wanting to work for us, who are all trained in the Awhi way of doing things," Mr Beijeman said.