Recognising Māori farming excellence and potential

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Members of the NZ farming community are saying that the Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award is racist.  In an exclusive interview with Te Ao Māori News, the chair of The Ahuwhenua Trohy Management Committee, Kingi Smiler, responds to the comments.

“There are many farming competitions in New Zealand, and we find that our people prefer to specifically enter our particular programs because the tikanga and the protocols that we follow they feel much more comfortable with", says Smiler. 

NZ farming Facebook community members have labelled the initiative as racist, with a number of users supporting the suggestion that there should be a young Pākehā farmer of the year award.

“If they understood the history of the colonisation of New Zealand, understanding that most of the land of our people was confiscated, the opportunity for that land to come back for many of our whānau, for our trusts and incorporations and landholdings has really only occurred in the last 30 or 40 years,” says Smiler.

The Ahuwhenua Māori Farming Trophy was launched in 1933 by Sir Apirana Ngata and Lord Bledisloe, with the Young Māori Farmer Award being introduced in 2012.

“These people actually now look after their own significant units on farms, their goal will eventually be to be the operational managers and general managers of our farming enterprises, representing their people but also representing the whole industry across all the agribusiness, dairy, sheep and beef and horticulture,” says Smiler.

An independently sponsored initiative, the award identifies potential and provides support for future industry leaders.

Smiler says, “We're about sustaining our land over the generations, so it's important that our young people are trained so that they can be the kaitiaki and build those systems in resilience for our future generations and making sure that the land is well cared for.”

The winner is announced during the Ahuwhenua Trophy Awards Dinner, this year being held in Gisborne on Friday 24th May 2019.