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Ahuwhenua finalists announced this week

The three finalists for the 2014 Ahuwhenua Trophy for Excellence in Maori dairy farming will be announced at a function at Parliament this Wednesday 18 February. The function will be hosted by the Minister of Maori Affairs, Dr Pita Sharples, and the Minister for Primary Industry, Nathan Guy, will speak.

The competition alternates between sheep and beef and dairy farming; the 2014 competition is for the top-performing Maori dairy farm.  The three finalists will be chosen from a number of Maori trusts, incorporations and individual farmers nationwide.  The finalists will then undergo another round of judging including each staging a field day on their farms, open to the public.  These will be in March so people can see the farms in action before the cows are dried off in late autumn.

Chaiman of the Ahuwhenua Trophy mangement committee Kingi Smiler says Wellington is chosen as the finals venue to help draw more attention to the significance of the trophy and to highlight the contribution of Maori agribusiness to the New Zealand economy.

For example, Maori are significasnt players in the dairy industry; 10% of milk is produced by Maori farmers.  In Taranaki, a large Maori trust - Parininihi ki Waitotara - is Fonterra's largest supplier.  "And Maori place great importance on sustainable farming practices.  This is an integral part of our farming systems."

The Wellington event will also promote the award for the Young Maori Dairy Farmer of the Year.  "We have some great emerging talent coming through the industry and this competition is a way of encouraging our young people to make a career in farming."

Smiler says the Ahuwhenua Trophy competition is a great opportunity for Maori trusts, incorporations and individuals to showcase their successful dairy farming oeprations, some among the top-performing farms in New Zealand.

The Ahuwhenua Trophy was inaugurated 81 years ago by Sir Apirana Ngata and the Governor General at the time, Lord Bledisloe, to encourage Maori to improve their farming operations.

Rural News 18 February 2014

Posted: Thu 20 Feb 2014