Over 40 years have passed since the last Northland farm won top honours in the Ahuwhenua Māori Excellence in Farming Awards. But that time came to an end last night at the Ahuwhenua dinner awards in Whāngarei where prime minister Bill English announced the Omapere-Rangihamama Trust in Kaikohe the winners of the prestigious Ahuwhenua Trophy.
Trustee Taoko Wihongi says, "To me, we are all winners in this competition because the Māori farms and farmers from across the country who make it to the finals have all achieved standards of excellence in farming practice."
The Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award went to 21-year-old Jordan Biddle of Ngati Pahauwera who is a shepherd on Pihaunui Station south of Wairoa.
Minister of Māori Development Te Ururoa Flavell says, "The Prime Minister is here along with a number of ministers and that in itself is a signal of the prestige in which the awards are held to celebrate the achievements of this year's winners to add to those from previous years."
In its 83rd year, over 700 guests attended the Ahuwhenua dinner awards at the ASB Centre in Whāngarei. It was an event where dinner was complimented with the humour and banter you only hear at Maori gatherings.
There was Prime Minister Bill Englishs' jibes at the opposition over the recent bugdet allocations, "There's just two Māori MP's and they secured $2 billions dollars in the budget. What about all you other fellas. How much did you get?
And the reply from Ngapuhi Chair Sonny Tau received a roar of laughter, "The Māori economy contributed $43 billion dollars to the New Zealand economy. I worked out that the $2 billion dollars thats about 5% we got back. So thank you Te Ururoa you got 5% back of what we spent."
A senior official at The Ministry of Primary Industries, Hinemaua Rikirangi summed up the evening, "It's great to see the benefits and the excellence of our Māori farms and all those gathered here in support of our farmers and the high output across the country amongst the Māori people."
Next years Ahuwhenua awards dinner will be held in Christchurch.