The 2022 Ahuwhenua Trophy competition to find the top Māori sheep and beef farm is back on track, after having been posponed earlier in the year due to Covid-19.
He never thought the trust would reach such heights in the agricultural sector. Nikora says Maori tend to belittle themselves all the time. However, when push came to shove, the trust decided to give it a go and enter the competition.
There were scenes of great excitement as Tataiwhetu, which runs an organic dairy farm in the Ruatoki Valley, south of Whakatane, was announced the winner and presented with the trophy by the Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.
When Nikora was presented with the trophy there were scenes of great jubilation as whānau came on stage to join in the celebrations, which included waiata and a haka. Tataiwhetu runs 432 Kiwi cross cows and carries 188 replacement stock on its two support blocks. They milk once-a-day with the herd producing 129,140 kgMS a year.
The other finalists were Pouarua Farms, which runs 4,600 cows run on nine separate farms located near the township of Ngatea on the Hauraki Plains and Tunapahore B2A Incorporation, a 385 cow operation located at Torere on State Highway 35, on the East Coast of the North Island.
Nikora says Tataiwhetu’s biggest drive now is diversification and it is starting to look and see what that might be in the future.
“As far at Tuhoe is concerned, we are trying to lift the whole image of our iwi into another space and winning this award is a launching pad for this initiative,” he told Rural News. “All the assistance that is coming through from government has helped elevate us to new levels so we can achieve those sorts of things.”
While Nikora was born on a dairy farm, most of his working life was spent in business away from the farm.
Now, he and his fellow trustees to not only make decisions, but also get their hands dirty and work on the farm. Nikora has been chairman of the trust since 2009 and in that time has initiated many changes, which has led to improvements to the farm.
In 2010 it won a Ballance Farm Environment Award for the creation of special places on the farm – including the protection and enhancement of wetlands, landscape features and historical places.
Passion on Show
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says if the people on the other side of the world could see what’s happening in NZ, it would give then an understanding of the passion we have for the land and what we are trying to do in terms of development.
“At the awards dinner, the Japanese Ambassador said it was a wonderful night because it gave him an insight into some of the history of Maori culture and the land, which he compared to what happens in some places in Japan,” O’Connor told Rural News. “I guess inviting more people to be exposed to that would be a wonderful development.”
O’Connor believes NZ has the opportunity to be unique in the world and part of that is incorporating Maori values in the partnership that is NZ. He says values such as Manaakitanga – respect, humility, kindness and honesty; Kaitiakitanga – meaning guardianship and protection and Te Taiao – the environment that contains and surrounds us are special values.
O’Connor claims that, right across the world, people are recognising the importance of health and food and this puts NZ in a good position as a food producing nation.
He says NZ has to do the right thing, which is about the protecting our land, water, cultural and social values and contribute to making the world and our country a better place.
“But it’s not just about moving from volume to value but from volume to values and connecting with the values of our consumers,” he adds.
In his speech at the awards function, Damien O’Connor praised the winners Tataiwhetu Trust as well as the other finalists. He also praised the contribution John Luxton has made to the dairy industry. Luxton is very ill but came along to the awards evening. O’Connor described him as a stalwart and champion of the dairy industry.