Despite the weather, more than 200 people attended the field day of Māori Investments Limited – Whiritoa Orchards, based at Te Teko in Eastern Bay of Plenty.
Māori Investments Limited (MIL) – Whiritoa Orchards is one of three finalists in this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy for excellence in Māori horticulture.
Guests were welcomed onto Kokohinau marae, where they heard presentations from members of the MIL board and staff about the operation.
These were held in the wharanui, O Ruataupare, as the heavy rain in recent days had caused some flooding in the orchard.
But later visitors were taken by bus to the orchards where, thanks to a break in the weather, they were able to tour the site and hear from orchard manager Helen Scott and property manager Rex Anderson.
Among the guests at the field day was Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson, who told guests that the Ahuwhenua Trophy Awards are something to be really proud of.
He said he loves attending the field days and awards dinner and that it’s one of the highlights of his ministerial portfolio.
MIL board chair John O’Brien described the field day as fantastic and said the good turnout was quite unexpected given all the rain that fell in the days before the field day.
He said they had to pivot at the last minute to hold the presentations at the historic Kokohinau marae rather than at the orchard, but that Kokohinau was a very appropriate place to stage their presentations given its history with MIL.
O’Brien said all the fruit in the orchards had been harvested, which was not an easy task given the wet weather. Other adverse events, such as hail and frost, caused problems for MIL this past season.
The chair of the Ahuwhenua Trophy Management Committee, Nukuhia Hadfield, congratulated MIL for staging an excellent field day.
She said visitors were impressed with the presentations given by the team and were mindful that they had suffered damage in last year’s frost, and in the recent cyclones.
Hadfield said MIL – Whiritoa Orchards has carried on, however, taking positive steps for their business despite these adverse events.
Hadfield thanked all the finalists for working to some challenging deadlines to meet the demands of being an entrant in the competition.
“We are proud of them and they should be proud of themselves,” she said.
The next field day will be held at the Wi Pere Trust orchard in Gisborne on May 11, with the last field day being held at the Ngāi Tukairangi Trust orchard in Hastings on May 18, with the ultimate winner being announced on June 9 at the Mercury Baypark Arena, Tauranga.