Taranaki dairy farming is once again centre stage after a Normanby consortium won the coveted Te Ahuwhenua Trophy for Maori Excellence in Farming.
Te Rua o Te Moko is an amalgam of four Maori trusts which combined five blocks of land five years ago to create a sustainable dairy operation.
Its success follows the win by South Taranaki variable order sharemilkers Charlie and Jody McCaig of the prestigious New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year title earlier this year.
The Te Ahuwhenua Trophy was presented to Te Rua o Te Moko chairman Dion Maaka by the Governor-General, Sir Jerry Mateparae, in front of more than 850 people at a gala awards evening in Tauranga on Friday.
Among the guests were Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples and the Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy.
Te Rua o Te Moko was one of three finalists in the annual contest which was for dairy farms this year.
Maaka said Te Rua o Te Moko's success validated the decision by more than 1100 owners to combine their land to establish the farm.
The 170ha farm is operated by 50/50 sharemilkers Michael and Ruth Prankerd, whose 500 cows produced a record 190,000 kilograms of milksolids last season.
Ahuwhenua Trophy management committee chairman Kingi Smiler said Te Rua o Te Moko was a shining example of the way small Maori trusts were co-operating to create economically viable enterprises.
Amalgamating the five blocks into a single farm marked a new era for the landowners who were now receiving a good financial return from the operation, which also includes a farm training school for shareholders' descendants and for other young people.
Smiler said Maori agribusiness had become a powerhouse of the New Zealand economy. Trusts like Te Rua o Te Moko were multimillion-dollar businesses that could be benchmarked successfully with all farms and although they adopted modern farming methods, they retained Maori values.
The Te Ahuwhenua Trophy was inaugurated in 1933 by visionary Maori leader Sir Apirana Ngata and then governor-general, Lord Bledisloe, to encourage skill and proficiency in Maori farming. It has been awarded to Taranaki farmers six times.
In 2006, Taranaki Maori incorporation Parininihi ki Waitotara won the first biannual competition for dairy farming and the prestigious trophy. Ted Tamati, of Bell Block, won it in both 1965 and 1971, and Waitara's Charlie Bailey won the trophy in 1970 and in 1976.
- Taranaki Daily News
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