2023 Ahuwhenua Trophy Winner Announced
The winner of this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy for the top Māori horticultural enterprise is Wi Pere Trust based near Gisborne.
The Minister for Māori Development, Hon Willie Jackson made the announcement at the awards dinner held in the Tauranga, attended by over 900 people. Other guests included, Hon Jo Luxton, Sir Tumu and Lady Susan Te Heuheu, representatives of the Kiingitanga, along with diplomats, other representatives of central and local government, agribusiness leaders and whānau from all the finalists.
As the announcement was made there were jubilant scenes as Wi Pere whānau came on stage to join in the celebrations, where Trudy Meredith, trustee and granddaughter of Wi Pere received the coveted Ahuwhenua Trophy. This is the second year in a row that Wi Pere Trust have won this prestigious award. In 2022 they were named the winner in the Ahuwhenua Trophy for the top sheep and beef farm.
Minister Jackson congratulated all the finalists and winners in both the Ahuwhenua Trophy competition and the Ahuwhenua Young Māori Grower Award. He told the gathering that these awards are always a very special occasion which sees whānau come together and have a great evening, relishing the chance to celebrate history in a very special way. He says the achievements of Māori have long been underrated and while there are many other problems in the country, it seems quite ironic that the Māori economy is going through the roof and is worth up to $80 billion.
Trudy Meredith says winning the Ahuwhenua Trophy was absolutely wonderful. She says her legs were shaking when she went on stage to receive the trophy and says her ancestor Wi Pere, would have been amazed at the Trust winning the Ahuwhenua Trophy for the second year in a row. She says it has been a very strong competition and all the competitors have learned so much from each other.
“I thought we had gaps in our business where Ngāi Tukairangi and MIL, Whiritoa Orchards had many strengths – so everybody’s taken lessons back from each other,” she says.
Trudy Meredith says she was delighted to learn about the level of support they had in the district. She says their win is important and means a lot for the people of Tairawhiti because of what it has gone through.
Nukuhia Hadfield, Chair of the Ahuwhenua Trophy Management Committee, says it has been a difficult year from most growers and farmers in the primary sector, but especially hard for all the finalists in the competition. She says a combination and accumulation of events such as frosts, floods and other unseasonal conditions created major problems for all the entrants. She says despite this adversity, all the finalists remained in the competition and put together exceptionally good field days to showcase their respective orchards.
“I would not liked to have been a judge in these circumstances, but certainly full praise to Wi Pere Trust for being judged the winner. I have seen their property and they are very worthy winners. But having said that, all the finalists have once again demonstrated the strength and excellence of Māori horticulture,” she says.
The other finalists are MIL – Whiritoa Orchards; and Ngāi Tukairangi Trust.
The Ahuwhenua Trophy is the most prestigious award for excellence in Māori farming and horticulture, and was inaugurated 90 years ago by the great Māori leader, Sir Apirana Ngata and the Governor General at the time, Lord Bledisloe. The objective was and still is to encourage Māori farmers to improve their land and their overall farming position with an emphasis on sustainability. On a three year rotational basis, the Trophy is competed for by Māori in the sheep and beef, horticulture, and dairy sectors.