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2023 Wi Pere Trust - field day

Around 250 people attended the field day at the orchard of Wi Pere Trust at Waipaoa near Gisborne.

Wi Pere Trust is one of three finalists in this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy for excellence in Māori horticulture award. The others finalists are: MIL – Whiritoa Orchards and Ngāi Tukairangi Trust. As part of the competition each finalist stages an open field day at their respective orchards to give judges and members of the public the chance to come and see the property and hear about their organisation.

Guests were welcomed at Tangihanga Orchard, Wi Pere Trust’s blueberry, citrus and apple orchard, where they heard from members of the Wi Pere board and staff about the operation. This orchard had been badly damaged by Cyclone Gabrielle and as part of the presentation guests were shown a video of this.

Visitors were then taken to Wi Pere Trust’s Toroa Orchard, where General Manager Wayne Hall, Orchard Manager Eddie Collins, and Environmental Advisor Lachie Grant presented. At this site they were able to see persimmons which are in the process of being harvested.

Wayne Hall says he was ecstatic about the turnout to the field day and says the good weather on the day enabled them to showcase their operation. He says people were amazed to see how well Wi Pere Trust had recovered from Cyclone Gabrielle in the past two months. He says by showing them photographs of what it was like, compared to how it is today was revealing to many people.

He says the other benefit of the field day was that it was an opportunity to tell people about the Ahuwhenua Trophy competition and how this has contributed to the growth of Māori agribusiness.

Nukuhia Hadfield, Chair of the Ahuwhenua Trophy Management Committee, told the gathering that Wi Pere Trust had done a great job as a finalist in the competition, despite suffering extensive damage from Cyclone Gabrielle. She says it was not only the impact on the orchard, but also the logistical issues that Wi Pere Trust faced with damaged roads and bridges in the district, and the need to care for their staff.

Nukuhia Hadfield says this has been an exceptionally bad year for the primary sector with a series of adverse weather events which have damaged farms and orchards and seriously disrupted people’s lives. “However, Wi Pere Trust and the other two finalists MIL – Whiritoa Orchards and Ngāi Tukairangi Trust, are a real credit to the outstanding legacy of Ahuwhenua, showing great resilience and determination while being under enormous pressure” she says.

The final field day will be held at the Ngāi Tukairangi Trust property in Hastings on Thursday 18 May, with the ultimate winner being announced at the awards dinner on Friday 9 June 2023 at the Mercury Baypark Arena, Tauranga.

The Ahuwhenua Trophy is the most prestigious award for excellence in Māori farming 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 performance with an emphasis on sustainability. On a three-year rotational basis, the Trophy is competed for by Māori in the horticulture, dairy and sheep and beef sectors. This is only the second time the competition for horticulture has been held.

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