Whangara Farms open gates for Ahuwhenua field day

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Whangara Farms has been nominated as a finalist for the Ahuwhenua Māori Farming Award, finding success through the partnership of three Ngāti Konohi farm incorporations.

Chair of Whangara Farms, Ingrid Collins says, “We're all about getting our name out there in the world and it is; it's in Denmark with the wool, it's in America with McDonald's, we've been to China and that sort of thing is important for us here.”

Whangara Farms is the first of three finalists to show their stock in a bid for the annual award.

Chair of the Ahuwhenua Trophy Management Committee, Kingi Smiler says, “The judges are looking for those that have built experience, leadership qualities, they're able to understand the business of farming but also the wider context of leadership and caring for that land so they can be the leaders of the future."

In 2018, Whangara Farms ran a total of 2,500 Angus breeding cows, 300 breeding heifers, 4,750 rearing/finishing cattle and 60,000 sheep.

The farm is a partnership of three major Māori incorporations under one management system, Pakarae A, Whangara B5 and Tapuwae Whitiwhiti bringing three major Incorporations of Ngāti Konohi under one management system.

“[Whangara] Marae is our heart, we were separated and competing with each other- now we've come back and we're just one and that's brought us all back together, we operate now as one.”

The total area of the farming partnership is now 8,500ha (approx. 21,000 acres).

Whangara Farms were awarded the Flagship Farmer award by McDonald's in 2018, making them the only farm outside the British and European markets to receive the award.

Collins says, “We were disappointed that it got on Māori news but it didn't get anywhere else, so what does that say?  That we're a Māori farm, doing well, but people don't understand how we work and why we've done so well.  It's because we've got unity with the three incorporations."

When asked about the Ture Whenua Act, Collins says, “People that think that's a hold up are not reading the act.  They need to understand that you can do anything under the Ture Whenua Act and as long as you stay in the limits of what it gives you, and they are huge, that you can do anything and this is what we're doing.”

The next Ahuwhenua trophy finalist field day takes place at Te Awahōhonu Forest Trust on the 11th.