Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Taranaki grower wins Māori ag’s top prize

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Grace Rehu of Rangitāne named Ahuwhenua Young Māori Grower of the year.
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Hawke’s Bay’s Grace Rehu was named Ahuwhenua Young Māori Grower of the year at the Ahuwhenua Trophy awards held in Tauranga.

Twenty-one-year-old Rehu, Rangitāne, Taranaki, is a leading hand for Turners and Growers in Puketapu, Hawke’s Bay.

The other two finalists in the competition were Alix Te Kere, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Tu, Ngāti Maru, and Ngāti Maniapoto and Erica Henare, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Maniapoto. 

It was the first time in the history of the event that three wāhine Māori were selected as finalists. To mark the occasion, each received  $5000 from Te Tumu Paeroa in addition to other prizes.

Rehu said being part of the competition was an amazing experience and opportunity but she could not have done it without the support of the two other finalists by her side. 

She said she was pushed into entering the competition without really knowing what was involved. But as her participation in the competition evolved, she fell in love with the kaupapa and kept on going.

 Aaron Hunt, one of the judges, said the industry is in good hands with these three wāhine toa. 

As part of the judging process the finalists attended an intensive three-day study tour designed to provide a range of insights, inspiration and experiences across the horticultural sector. This included a trip to Zespri, a visit to Matakana Island to see Whai Orchard, a kiwifruit operation, Opure ra Trust, an avocado orchard, and a berry orchard that is a joint venture with five Māori trusts.

“All three finalists are amazing. The growth in them over the course of the judging programme was phenomenal. They were all taken out of their comfort zone over the course of the study tour, but all of them took in absolutely everything,” Hunt said.

He said Rehu demonstrated the three values of the judging criteria: Manaakitanga – looking after others, Whānaungatanga – engagement, and Mana Motuhake – being authentic.

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