Over 250 people attended the BNZ Ahuwhenua Māori Excellence in Farming Awards Field Day held at Ngāi Tahu Farms at Te Whenua Hou, South Eyrewell on 8 March.
As part of the two-day final judging process, the field day attracted a large and diverse crowd keen to get a first-hand view of the two Ngāi Tahu Farming properties – Maungatere managed by Hemi Dawson (Ngāi Tahu) and Te Ahu Pātiki managed by Rod Lamb – that were joint finalists in the awards; and to congratulate the farms on their finalist medal and prizes.
It is the first time in the 83-year history of the awards that a South Island farm has made it to the finals and this year, there were two – Ngāi Tahu Farming and the Rakaia Incorporation. Tewi Trust at Tirau in the Waikato is the third 2016 finalist.
First round judge Paul Bird noted that Ngāi Tahu Farming stood out for its clarity of vision a and how it entwines Ngāi Tahu values in the farming operations.
“As part of its quadruple bottom line scorecard, Ngāi Tahu Farming has a broad range of goals it seeks to achieve. It’s not just about the money, it’s about the people and the environment and meeting cultural values,” he says.
“That is embedded in everything Ngāi Tahu Farming does and that was a real feature for us. We were impressed by the way the company is striving to develop the social and community aspects in addition to the ‘nuts and bolts’ of farming.
“There is also clear vision and leadership around environmental matters – from irrigation management to employing the best possible techniques to monitor and assess environmental impact.”
Ngāi Tahu Farming’s quadruple bottom line comes down to four pou – social, economic, natural environment and values and culture – that form the basis of assessing whether the company is growing the ability of the land to support life (both quantity and variety), preserving and enhancing the quality of the catchment and the engagement with manawhenua around use of the farm and gauging environmental impact.
There was keen field day interest in the farms and their operation, and presentations by Board Chair, Gil Cox, CEO Andrew Priest, General Manager, Ngāi Tahu Farming Dairy Shane Kelly and the two finalist farm managers, Hemi Dawson and Rod Lamb were well received.
The Ahuwhenua Māori Farming awards are one of the most robust judging competitions in the New Zealand farming calendar – they set the benchmark for the whole industry says Chairman of the Ahuwhenua Trophy Management Committee, Kingi Smiler.
The 2016 winner will be announced on May 20 at a dinner hosted by Waikato-Tainui. Over 800 people have already confirmed their dinner attendance.