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2009 Ahuwhenua Trophy Competition launched today

For immediate release: October 22, 2008

2009 Ahuwhenua Trophy Competition launched today

The launch of the 2009 Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Maori Excellence in Farming Award, at 10.30am toay (22/10) at Atihau-Whanganui’s Te Pa Station, Oakune, is an opportunity to celebrate “the enormous growth and development” of the Maori agri-business sector, says Kingi Smiler Chairman of the competition’s Management Committee.

Mr Smiler is encouraging individual farmers, trusts and incorporations to “pick up the challenge” and enter next year’s Sheep and Beef Award.

Te Pa is the new 5720-hectare station, the amalgamation of Pah Hill Station, (last year’s winner of the Ahuwhenua Trophy) and its next-door neighbour Omerei Station. It is situated 15 kilometres south-east of Ohakune.

Both farms are part of the Atihau-Whanganui Incorporation (AWHI), which farms 41,700 hectares (an area the size of Lake Taupo), from Whanganui through to Ohakune.

AWHI runs six sheep and beef stations and a dairy unit – comprising 206,000 stock units and 5,000 hectares of forestry.

The incorporation has recently undertaken a major business review, andhas also negotiated a $26.5million settlement with the Crown. Most of its $31.5million debt, held in a variety of leases since 1903, has now been retired.

Last year, when Pah Hill Station won the prestigious Ahuwhenua Trophy it was a 1900 (effective) hectare sheep and beef farm supporting 11,000 breeding ewes, 650 breeding cows and replacement stock. Since the amalgamation, the new Te Pa Station has almost doubled in size to 3,950 (effective) hectares supporting up to 48,000 stock units.

Kingi Smiler describes the emergence of Te Pa, and the story of AHWI’s progress over the past year, as “inspiring”.

“After winning the trophy, Atihau worked with their experienced managers on a comprehensive review to improve both performance and productivity in their business. The have looked at a wide range of science, technology and environmental questions simplifying their farm management structure from ten farms to six - with all their stations geared to one large farming operation that can achieve economies of scale, team work, and optimum performance.

“There are a number of Maori farming businesses around the country that could take heart from the success previous competition winners have had. Learning new ways and continuous improvement is a great way to run your business,” Mr Smiler says.

Farming a total effective area of 720,000 hectares worth an estimated $7.5 billion, Maori are the largest group of pastoral farmers in New Zealand.

Entries for the award open today, and will close on January 30, 2009. Regional judging starts on March 2, and will run until March 20. Field days will be held at the three regional winners’ farms April 23, April 30, and May 7. The supreme award winner and recipient of the Ahuwhenua Trophy will be announced June 12, at a gala dinner in Gisborne.

The competition aims to recognise excellence in farming and showcase achievement in the Maori Sheep & Beef sector – in particular, successful approaches to governance, financing, management, innovation, environmental management and the recognition of nga tikanga Maori.

As well as being presented with the Ahuwhenua Trophy, the winner of the competition will also receive up to $40,000 in cash, services and farm products. Regional winners will each receive $15,000 in cash, services and farm products.

Kingi Smiler says the competition is recognised as “top class” in achieving awareness of best in farming practices and is only possible through the support of sponsors.

BNZ is the Platinum Sponsor for the Award. Gold sponsors are: Te Puni Kokiri, AgResearch and Meat & Wool New Zealand. Silver sponsors are PGG Wrightson, and Ballance AgriNutrients, and Bronze sponsors are the Maori Trustee, Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries, AgITO and BDO Spicers. Sponsor support has also been provided by Landcorp, Tohu Wines, Poutama Trust and Dominion Breweries.

Entry to the competition is free. Entry forms are available on-line @ www.ahuwhenuatrophy.maori.com or www.tpk.govt.nz

Ends.


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