More than 150 people attended the field day of Pouarua Farms, one of the finalists in this year's prestigious Ahuwhenua Trophy for the top Māori dairy farm.
Pouarua Farms is a large Māori-owned dairy operation near the township of Ngatea on the Hauraki Plains, close to Thames.
The 2200ha platform comprises 10 farms – nine dairy units and one dry stock unit, and is the largest single dairy platform in the Hauraki region.
A total of 4600 cows are milked across 1775ha and produce approximately 1.65M kgMS.
People came from many parts of the central North Island including the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions.
Also present were representatives of the other two finalists, Tataiwhetu Trust located in the Rūātoki Valley south of Whakatāne and Tunapahore B2A Incorporation at Hawai on State Highway 35 on the East Coast of the North Island.
After formalities, attendees learnt the history, vision, current operations, and plans for the future.
Ahuwhenua Trophy Management Committee chairman Kingi Smiler said entering the competition in such challenging and uncertain times took courage and determination, and Pouarua Farms, like the other two finalists, had shown just that.
Highlighting the positive aspect of Māori agribusiness was more important than ever because it helped to ignite a sense of pride among Māori and the wider community, Smiler said.
"Field days such as this one at Pouarua Farms are an outstanding example of the achievements of Māori and highlights the growing contribution of Māori to the wider Aotearoa economy.
"We need to do more showcasing of our achievements as many people still do not understand the value of the Māori economy," he said.
Field days for Tataiwhetu Trust will be held on April 1 and at Tunapahore B2A Incorporation on April 8.
The winner of the competition will be announced at the Ahuwhenua Trophy Awards Dinner being held in New Plymouth on May 14.
Pouarua Farms Profile
Ngā Puke ki Hauraki ka tarehu
E mihi ana ki te whenua
E tangi ana ki te tangata
Ko Te Aroha kei roto
Ko Moehau kei waho
Ko Tīkapa te moana
Ko Hauraki te whenua
Located on the Hauraki Plains, Pouarua Farms is jointly owned by Ngāti Maru, Ngāti Paoa, Ngāti Tamaterā, Ngāti Tara Tokanui and Te Patukirikiri and lie within the Māori land blocks known as Ngarua, Waitakaruru and Puhangateuru.
The Waitangi Tribunal confirmed the iwi of Hauraki suffered raupatu by the Crown and were marginalised in their own rohe as a result of being among the most landless of iwi in the nation.
Pouarua Farms were then returned to the five iwi in 2013 in the largest on-account Treaty settlement ever made by the Crown.
The farms were initially in a 50/50 sharemilking agreement with Landcorp from 2013 to 2019. Pouarua Farms is now fully operated by the iwi owners under a limited partnership arrangement.
The board is independently chaired by the Honourable John Luxton along with iwi representative directors Paul Majurey, John McEnteer, and Rick Braddock, who have all served from the outset of the return of Pouarua Farms to the iwi.
Since taking on full operational care in May 2019, significant productive and financial gains have been achieved by careful execution of management led by chief executive Jenna Smith.
The dairy farms are run as system two and as all the farms sit on quite raw peat of varying maturity, production and input are therefore equally variable.
Farm A was established in 2017 after a reconfiguration of four of the farms with the intention to increase on-farm efficiencies. Milking 600 cows on 217 effective hectares through a well-equipped modern 54 bail rotary shed, the farm is the vision of its owners, with practical technologies and careful consideration for the environment.
Farm A recorded an 18 per cent increase in per cow milk production to 390 kgMS in the 2019-20 season and a 20 per cent increase in per hectare production to 1034 kgMS despite a significant drought.
This was achieved with careful utilisation of on-farm grown feeds and adjusting the stocking rate down, as well as utilising 3-in-2 milking to conserve energy during the hotter months.
Nitrogen use is capped to 150 units/ha across all farms and Farm Environment Plans were adopted as soon as full operational care was undertaken. A forever planting plan sees approximately 7500 harakeke and other native species planted annually across the entire platform - with riparian planting of the drains the main priority.
Specific species are planted in cultural gardens to utilise in weaving, medicines, honey, bird habitat, water quality, soil conservation and landscape improvement.