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Ahuwhenua Trophy Competition Judges Announced

For Immediate Release


Ahuwhenua Trophy Competition Judges Announced

The chair of Atihau-Whanganui Incorporation (AWI), Dana Blackburn, has, once again, been named chief judge of the Ahuwhenua Trophy - BNZ Māori Excellence in Farming competition for Māori sheep and beef farmers.

Dana Blackburn leads a final judging team of highly respected agribusiness experts. They are the Executive Director of Beef + Lamb New Zealand Economic Service, Rob Davison, scientist and independent agribusiness consultant, Dr Gavin Sheath and Stephen Veitch, a senior partner with BNZ in East Waikato. Abe Seymour from Primary ITO is the Competition Kaumatua.

The first round judging team is led by Garry Pevreal (BNZ) and consists of Gary Walton (B+LNZ), Peter Ettema (Ministry for Primary Industries) and Peter MacGregor (PrimaryITO). The Judges Coordinator is Andrew Rutherford.

Dana Blackburn (Ngati Rangi, Atihaunui a Paparangi, Tuwharetoa) farms an 800 hectare semi intensive sheep and beef unit at Karioi, Ohakune a property initially developed on family and ancestral land. He is the Chair of the Atihau Whanganui Incorporation which won the Ahuwhenua Trophy in 2007. This is his second stint as chief judge of the historic Ahuwhenua Trophy competition which celebrates its 80th anniversary this year.

“If this year’s entrants are anything like those I judged previously we are in for an outstanding competition which is fitting for such a venerable award,” he said.

“Entries close on January 28 so there is still time to enter and start that important and very productive process of benchmarking your sheep and beef farm against the best in Aotearoa along with benefitting from the judges comprehensive analysis.”

First round judging will take place in March and public field days on each finalist farm will take place on April 23, May 2, and May 9.

The winner of the 2013 Ahuwhenua Trophy will be announced at a gala dinner at the Pettigrew Green Arena, Taradale, on Friday June 7, 2013.

Entry is free and forms are available from all offices of the Māori Trustee and Te Puni Kōkiri on their websites or or, or from the Ahuwhenua Trophy competitions administrator, Marama Steele, 021 505 509,

The Ahuwhenua Trophy competition celebrates business excellence in the New Zealand pastoral sector and is open to Māori farming properties either owned individually, or managed by Māori Trusts and Incorporations in New Zealand.

Entrants will be tested on a range of protocols based on the efficiency with which the property is farmed relative to its potential. While financial performance, effective governance and management practices are important considerations judges will also take into account conditions that affect financial performance such as climatic conditions and market returns.

Bio’s of final judges

Rob Davison has been head of the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Economic Service since 1989, His early working life was spent working on farms but he has spent most of the last 40 years working in the fields of agricultural economics and policy, and farm sector output forecasting . The Economic Service’s Survey of sheep and beef farms regularly gathers data on livestock, production, revenue, expenditure and the financial structure of farms.

Dr Gavin Sheath is an agricultural systems consultant with extensive international and domestic experience as a scientist and businessman. Most recently he has provided strategic planning services to Maori agribusinesses, Deer Industry NZ, and DairyNZ. He has participated in technical reviews for Ministry of Primary Industries and Waikato River Authority and has worked in both the private and public sectors in Japan, Mongolia and South America.

Stephen Veitch is an Agribusiness banking veteran with 15 years banking and finance experience. He looks after nine Agribusiness Partners and a Commercial Property Finance Partner in the wider Hamilton, Matamata and Morrinsville area. His wife Teri and two children, Ella and Nikau whakapapa to Ngati Awa and Ngati Manawa.


The inaugural Ahuwhenua Trophy competition, established by Sir Apirana Ngata with the support of the then Governor General, Lord Bledisloe, was won in 1933 by William Swinton of Raukokore (Bay of Plenty). The competition was re-launched in 2003. Each year it alternates between sheep and beef farmers and dairy farmers. This year the competition is for Māori sheep and beef farmers.


BNZ is the Platinum Sponsor for the Award. Gold Sponsors are Beef+Lamb NZ, Te Puni Kōkiri, Ministry for Primary Industries and the Māori Trustee. Silver Sponsors are PGG Wrightson, AgResearch, Primary ITO and Ballance Agri-Nutrients, and Bronze Sponsors are, AFFCO, BDO, Allflex and Polaris. Sponsor support will also be supplied by Tohu Wines, the Federation of Māori Authorities, Landcorp, Agrecovery Rural Recycling Programme and DB Breweries.


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