Entries are open for the prestigious Ahuwhenua Trophy competition, with dairy farmers the focus this time.
The competition was inaugurated in 1933 by the then governor-general, Lord Bledisloe, and one of te ao Māori’s greatest leaders, Sir Apirana Ngata.
The objective was, and still is, to foster the growth and development of Māori in livestock farming and horticulture.
The competition is held annually and rotates between dairy, sheep and beef and horticulture. In 2024, the competition is for dairy.
The initial judging of entrants takes place early in the new year with the finalists announced at Parliament in late February.
The finalists stage field days during late March and early April. The winner of the competition will be announced at an awards dinner on Friday, May 17 in Hamilton.
Ahuwhenua Trophy chair Nukuhia Hadfield said the competition is an excellent opportunity for Māori to showcase their dairy farming operations.
She said not enough people in New Zealand know about or understand the contribution that Māori make to the economy. It’s said that Māori contribute more than 10% of the total earnings of the dairy industry.
Hadfield and her husband Bart are previous winners of the Ahuwhenua Trophy for sheep and beef and she said as farmers, just being entrants, let alone winners, was hugely beneficial to them.
“As part of the judging process, each farm is carefully evaluated by an experienced team of rural professionals and as part of the process they offer insightful comments that will benefit the owners. We certainly found this to be the case and others who have entered have said the same thing,” she said.
Hadfield said the organisers hope to see a significant number of entrants for the 2024 competition and she urged industry groups and rural professionals to encourage Māori farmers, trusts and incorporations to enter.
Jim van der Poel, chair of DairyNZ, said he is keen to see what comes out of the 2024 competition.
“It’s an extremely important event on the agricultural calendar and that’s why our organisation is a strong supporter and sponsor of the event,” he said.
“If you think about some of the winners over the past few years and what they have done and are doing, and how proud they are of their achievements, it is really positive. Every year more amazing stories emerge from the entrants in this competition,” he said.