An Eastern Bay of Plenty kiwifruit orchard has won the inaugural Ahuwhenua Trophy for excellence in Māori horticulture.
The Ahuwhenua Trophy is the most prestigious award for Māori agriculture, originally launched in 1933 by the visionary Māori leader Sir Apirana Ngata and the Governor-General at the time Lord Bledisloe.
Te Kaha 15B Hineora Orchard received this year’s trophy.
The orchard is a Māori freehold land block located in the Eastern Bay of Plenty township of Te Kaha, 65 km east of Ōpōtiki.
The announcement was made on Friday, November 20, at a special awards function in Rotorua attended by 750 people including the Minister for Māori Development and Minister of Agriculture, other politicians and dignitaries, agribusiness leaders and whānau.
Ahuwhenua Trophy Management Committee chairman Kingi Smiler says Te Kaha 15 B Hineora Orchard was a worthy winner of the trophy.
He says the Trustees have shown great vision, persistence and resilience to establish their operation and to achieve some impressive results.
Kingi says this is the first time in the 87 year history of the competition that the trophy has been open to Māori horticulturalists and says this is not before time.
Māori are significant players in the horticultural sector and we must recognise their contribution to the New Zealand economy, he says.
The two other finalists were Otama Marere in Paengaroa near Te Puke, who grow a mixture of Green, SunGold and organic kiwifruit as well as avocados, and Ngāi Tukairangi Trust which is very large kiwifruit operation with one of its orchards based at Matapihi.
"All three finalists have helped set a benchmark for future entrants in this competition which will be hard to eclipse. What makes it more impressive is the fact that they did this in one of the most difficult times in the history of the country when uncertainty is a way of life. “I am proud, Māori should be proud and the whole country should acknowledge their efforts," he says.
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