Friday, April 12, 2024

Finest young Māori farmers compete for title

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Three 2024 Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award finalists named.
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The finalists in the 2024 Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award have been announced.

Ben Purua, Tainui, 29, is the farm manager at Waimakariri Lands Ltd, near Tirau in Waikato, which runs 540 cows. He is a previous finalist in the AYMF award.

Purua faced adversity in his upbringing in Pukekohe, including exposure to gang life, substance abuse and domestic violence. 

This led him on a journey in and out of youth prison and eventually to Waikeria Prison. Working on the prison farms ignited a passion for farming and provided Purua with a path to positively redirect his life.

Ben Purura, Tainui, is the farm manager at Waimakariri Lands Ltd near Tirau in Waikato.

Hannah Speakman, Ngāti Kahungunu, 21, is employed as the 2IC for Woodlands Farming on Pine Hill Dairy farm in Enfield, near Oamaru. The Craigmore farm is 170 hectares and milks 560 cows.

Speakman spent her childhood in Elsthorpe, Hawke’s Bay on Edenham, a sheep and beef farm that was managed by her dad, John. It was there where her passion for whenua and livestock began.

 In 2019, during the first coronavirus lockdown, Speakman’s final year of high school was put on pause and she found herself back home working with her old man every day. It was then that she decided to pursue a career in farming. 

Hannah Speakman, Ngāti Kahungunu, is the 2IC for Woodlands Farming on Pine Hill Dairy farm in Enfield, near Oamaru.

Shayden Gardiner, Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi, Ngā Rauru, Ngāti Rangi, 21, is the assistant farm manager for Ma Taua Dairies, Rylib Group, near Ashburton in mid-Canterbury – a 354ha farm that milks 1120 cows at peak.

Gardiner is a dad to three tamariki, Te Reimana, 4, Tāwhirirangi, 3, and Maddison, 2, and with the unwavering support of his partner Ellie, they are his proudest achievement in life. He said he wouldn’t be where he is today without them.

Gardiner was born in Whanganui and raised living a rural lifestyle. His father and his Koko instilled in him a passion for the whenua, passing down their knowledge as farmers and hunter gatherers themselves. 

The Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award was inaugurated in 2012 and is designed to recognise up and coming young Māori in the pastoral and horticulture sectors. 

Lead judge Matiu Julian of Primary ITO said every year the award attracts young farmers and growers who are invested in their futures and want to advance their careers, and as judges it is a privilege to be involved. 

Julian said providing an opportunity for young Māori farmers to grow and connect as Māori is an investment in the future growth of the sector. What attracts many young Māori to the award is the realisation they are part of a legacy of Māori endeavour, of resilience and tenacity. 

The experience is uniquely Māori and it’s about representing their whānau and the communities who have invested in them.

The winner will be announced at the Ahuwhenua awards dinner in Hamilton on May 17.

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