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Kings reign at Ahuwhenua farming awards

Maori farming excellence in this region has received national recognition with Matawai and East Coast farmers winning big at a top awards ceremony.

Eugene and Pania King, of Kiriroa Station at Matawai, were last night named winners of the prestigious Ahuwhenua Trophy for the top Maori sheep and beef farm in Aotearoa for 2019.

Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor made the announcement and presented the trophy to the Kings at a special awards function in Gisborne attended by more than 600 people including Maori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta and other dignitaries, agribusiness leaders and whanau and supporters of the three finalists.

The other finalists were Whangara Farms and Te Awahohonu Forest Trust’s Gwavas Station at Tikokino, Hawke’s Bay.

Eugene and Pania King are the second couple in the King whanau to win the trophy.

Eugene’s sister Nukuhia and husband Bart Hadfield won the competition in 2015, and brother Ron and wife Justine were finalists in 2017.

Ahuwhenua Trophy management committee chairman Kingi Smiler described Eugene and Pania King as role models and a great example of a couple who set and achieved challenging goals.

“All this year’s finalists ran farming operations among the best in Aotearoa and for that matter, the world. The farms were of the highest standard and the task of deciding a winner would not have been easy.

“This year was a great example of the standard of Maori farming in the country and it is great that we have the Ahuwhenua Trophy competition to showcase its success.”

Ikaroa-Rawhiti MP Meka Whaitiri also congratulated the Kings.

“Our grassroots communities proved they are the gold standard of New Zealand’s rapidly-changing agriculture industry.

“I congratulate Kiriroa Station and their whanau on highlighting the role matauranga (knowledge) Maori has in shaping the way the beef and sheep industry grow our $50 billion Maori economy, creating sustainable, rewarding jobs in the process.

“Co-finalists Whangara Farms and Te Awahohonu Forest Trust’s Gwavas Station are proof of what diversifying your land use and working to realise the potential of our whenua (land) can do.

“Their long-term commitment to kaitiakitanga (guardianship) is something we should all be proud of.

There was more success for Maori farming in the district, with East Coast-based shepherd Kristy Roa winning the Ahuwhenua Young Maori Farmer Award.

Kristy, of Ngati Maniapoto and Ngati Apakura descent, works at the Hauiti Corporation’s Iwinui Station near Tolaga Bay.

Lead judge Peter Little said Kristy exemplified all that was good about young Maori making successful careers in the primary sector.

She had shown great commitment to her work, excellent leadership and would be a great model for other young people contemplating a farming career.

Another East Coast shepherd — Tumoanakotore-i-Whakairioratia Harrison-Boyd, who works at Whareopaia Station near Tolaga Bay — was a finalist for the Young Maori Farmer Award.

Matawai’s Kiriroa Station, owned and operated by Eugene and Pania King won the Ahuwhenua Trophy for top Maori sheep and beef farm in Aotearoa. Picture supplied
Kristy Roa wins the Ahuwhenua Young Maori Farmer Award.