Wednesday, 10 July 2019 07:27

Don’t forget Māori — Editorial

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Damien O'Connor. Damien O'Connor.

OPINION: Damien O'Connor is never one to shy away from speaking his mind and ruffling a few feathers, and in a nice way he did this at Federated Farmers’ conference last week.

This is not to criticise the conference, which was the best for many years, with good speakers and panels ably facilitated by president Katie Milne and Steve Maharey. 

The awards presented were good, especially to Dr Merlyn Hay for her dedication to discovering Mycoplasma bovis near Oamaru in 2017.

Although a few Māori addressed the conference, they were distinctly absent from the ranks of Feds delegates. This is not new, but while Māori agribusiness has grown, for some reason Māori farmers have chosen not to engage in the activites of the Federation.

O’Connor observed in his keynote address that Māori are now large players in the primary sector, producing 10% of dairy and kiwifruit products and 15% of meat and wool. They are major landholders and many of their farms — as illustrated by this and others years’ finalists in the Ahuwhenua competition — are top class by national and international standards.

And what Māori have to offer the primary sector is huge — their values of kaitiakitanga (guardianship) and manaakitanga (sharing). 

Jacinda Ardern told the conference that the Chinese Premier had told her how much he appreciated Māori values and how these set NZ apart from other nations. Their story has authenticity that resonates with the modern consumer.

So why are Māori not engaging with or being engaged by Federated Farmers? Do Māori not see the federation as relevant to their needs or interests? Is there a way Māori could raise their profile within the Feds or is it better for them to remain outside the group?

It is important that Federated Farmers ensures the Māori voice is heard by its members, as happened to some degree at the conference. At our peril do Kiwis underestimate Māori values and their contribution to NZ Inc. 

Māori need to know that their values are not just respected but are critical to the story about the provenance and authenticity of our food and fibre products. 

More like this

The Kings of Ahuwhenua

Eugene and Pania King from Kiriroa Station at Matawai, north-west of Gisborne, are this year’s winners of the Ahuwhenua Trophy for the top Māori sheep and beef farm.

Māori berry venture has big plans

A Māori-owned and operated berryfruit company, Miro, aims to return $170 million annual income in eight years to its blueberry growers using state-of-the-art systems.

Featured

Longest running ag field days all go

The South Island Agricultural Field Days, held in Kirwee on the outskirts of Christchurch, will celebrate its 70th year in March 2021 with a bigger demonstration area.

 

New Feds man keen to build

New Feds board member, William Beetham wants the organisation recognised for its significant contributions to NZ farming and society as a whole.

National

Global movers and shakers

Dairy companies around the world are facing a dilemma – whether to expand or divest assets, says Rabobank’s Mary Ledman.

Live cattle exports in limbo

The fate of 28,000 cows in quarantine in New Zealand and supposedly destined for China in the coming weeks hangs…

Machinery & Products

Mowers get a makeover

Well known throughout New Zealand over the past 18 years, Pottinger has redesigned its rear-mounted Novadisc mowers to incorporate a…

Hardy spotlight

High quality, reliable lighting is essential for anyone involved in agriculture or the great outdoors.

Simmm twin water blasters

Italian made Simmm Power Cleaner 100/11 and Power Gun 100/11 single-phase (230 volt) electric water blasters are proving popular in…

OPD argument raging on

A stoush is brewing with the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) heavily criticising Farmsafe Australia’s recent Safer Farm Report.

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

Cows and earthquakes

OPINION: It has long been suggested that animals have senses that humans don’t, and often behave differently than usual shortly…

Battle is on

OPINION: One of Australia’s biggest dairy businesses is back on the market after the Federal Government knocked back a bid…

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter