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Wairarapa farm earns a spot in prestigious final

Wairarapa Moana has been named as a finalist for the Ahuwhenua Trophy for Excellence in Māori Farming, which acknowledges and celebrates Māori business excellence in New Zealand’s pastoral and horticultural sectors.

Wairarapa Moana chair Kingi Smiler – who was inducted into the NZ Business Hall of Fame last year – said the farm team based in Mangakino are elated at the announcement.

“We take a lot of pride in the work that we do,” he said.

“This farm has outstanding financial performance and is benched marked within the top 10 per cent for our region.”

The 300-hectare farm carries 980 cows that are milked to produce 416,100 milk solids per year, and is blocked with 11 other farms owned by Wairarapa Moana.

For the past six years, Smiler said, the farm has worked on its environmental practices, including reducing its carbon footprint, and piloted several changes on the farm.

While government regulations for dairy farms sits at a maximum amount of nitrogen to 190 units, Smiler said Wairarapa Moana is a “very efficient” and uses an average of just 95 units.

There is a wide range of criteria that the finalists are judged on, Smiler noted, including financial performance, governance and strategy, contribution to whānau and community, environmental practices and impacts, animal and feeding performance and innovation.

The Ahuwhenua Trophy competition – which was inaugurated 91 years ago by Sir Āpirana Ngata and Governor General Lord Bledisloe – is held annually on a three-year rotational basis between Māori farmers and growers in sheep and beef, horticulture and dairy sectors, and aims is to encourage Māori farmers to improve their land and farming performance while emphasising sustainability.

Ahuwhenua Trophy Management Committee chair Nukuhia Hadfield said entrants in the competition have “once again” met a high calibre around Aotearoa.

She said all primary sectors, like dairy, face challenges such as “global financial disruption, war, rising costs and some major markets that are taking longer than expected to recover from the covid pandemic.”

Hadfield believed Māori dairy farmers’ finalists and entrants had shown strength and determination to overcome adversity and farm in a sustainable way.

“Aotearoa should be proud of what they do, and the Ahuwhenua Trophy competition ensures that their efforts are recognised and celebrated,” she said.

More than 10 years ago, Wairarapa Moana ki Pouākani Incorporation was formed through the amalgamation of Pouākani 2 Trust and Mangakino Township Incorporation.

The organisation, trading as Wairarapa Moana Incorporation, has a portfolio of dairy farming and forestry enterprises at Mangakino in the South Waikato, a dairy company, property holdings, and other investments.

Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board was also named as a finalist for the Ahuwhenua Trophy.

The Minister for Māori Development Tama Potaka made the announcement at a function at Parliament last week.

The winner will be announced at an awards dinner on Friday, May 17, at the Globox Arena, Claudelands Event Centre, Hamilton.

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