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Language: English | Māori

What excellence looks like

The Ahuwhenua Trophy — Excellence in Māori farming

The Ahuwhenua Trophy recognises and celebrates Māori excellence in farming.

A man speaking on stage for the Ahuwhenua Awards.

The Ahuwhenua Trophy competition is held every year, and alternates between recognising 3 different farming sectors:

  • dairy
  • sheep and beef, and 
  • horticulture.

There’s also an annual “Young Māori farmer” award.

History of the Ahuwhenua Trophy awards

The Ahuwhenua Trophy competition was launched in 1933 by Sir Apirana Ngata and the Governor General, Lord Bledisloe. The goal of the competition was to encourage skill and expertise in Māori farming. Sir Apirana Ngata saw the importance of retaining and improving whenua Māori — the Ahuwhenua Trophy was intended to help encourage whenua development over time.

After taking a break during the 1990s, the awards were relaunched in 2003. Since then, Māori agribusiness has become an important part of the economy in Aotearoa. Today the Ahuwhenua Trophy is recognised as the most prestigious award in Māori farming.

  • 1933 — Ahuwhenua Trophy awards launched.
  • 1954 — the competition was divided into two separate awards — dairy, and sheep and beef. Each award had their own trophy.
  • 1990 — the last year of the original competition was held, as interest in the Ahuwhenua Trophy fell during the 1980s.
  • 2003 — Ahuwhenua Trophy awards relaunched. The new competition recognised the changing face of Māori farming in Aotearoa, as well as the importance of Māori incorporations and trusts in the farming sector.
  • 2005 — the competition started to recognise excellence in dairy and sheep and beef farming in alternate years.
  • 2012 — a new award for young Māori farmers was introduced. 
  • 2019 — the Ahuwhenua Trophy competition for horticulture was introduced. 

Visit the Ahuwhenua Trophy website

See examples of mahi and success

As the Ahuwhenua Trophy awards have been around since 1933, there are many stories they can tell, showing examples of success and kaitiakitanga within the Māori agriculture sector.

If your trust, or your owners, are interested in developing your whenua for farming, the Ahuwhenua Trophy stories are a great resource. They show what others in the field have done to grow their farming business, and explain how they got to where they are today. 

Watch the story of Joe Wharekura – Winner 1945

Watch the story of Tame Pukunui – Winner 1942

See all of the Ahuwhenua Trophy videos on YouTube

Benefits of applying for the competition

If your trust has already invested in developing your whenua for farming, applying for the Ahuwhenua Trophy can give you a steer on how well you’re doing. Even if you don’t think the business is at a point where you could win, entering can give you some great feedback on where you’re at. It gives you an opportunity to:

  • reflect on what you’ve done so far
  • help see where you’re at now
  • get feedback from experts on the mahi you’ve done
  • find out how you can improve and grow your business over time.

It can also help put you in touch with others in the farming sector who are doing similar mahi. They could potentially act as a mentor to you, or simply lend an ear or give advice when you need it.

Applying for the awards also means you’ll also get feedback on your business from experts in the field, which will give you:

  • a benchmark rating of how well you’re doing now, and
  • feedback on how you can improve your business over time.

Enter the Ahuwhenua Trophy competition

Ahuwhenua image by John Cowpland, Alphapix.