A stellar night for Tairawhiti farming

THE WINNERS ARE . . .: Pania and Eugene King hoisted the Ahuwhenua Trophy for excellence in Maori sheep and beef farming on Friday night at a packed Farmers Air Event Centre, and they have described it as an “emotional and overwhelming moment”. Pictures by John Cowpland/alphapix
Community: The Kings were surrounded by 60 members of their whanau, friends and governance team at the gala awards function, and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor (front right).
Success: It was a special night for young Tolaga Bay shepherd Kristy Roa, seen here receiving the Young Maori Farmer Award from Te Puni Kokiri Ikaroa-Rawhiti regional manager Mere Pohatu.
On the farm: More than 100 4x4 quad bikes, single motorcycles and side by sides took part in a tour of the Kings’ farm as part of a field day for the Ahuwhenua Trophy.

Friday night was a huge occasion for the King family from Motu and for Kristy Roa from Tolaga Bay when they received respectively the Te Puni Kokiri Ahuwhenua Trophy for excellence in Maori sheep and beef farming, and the Young Maori Farmer Award.

The awards were presented before a crowd of 600 at a gala function at the Farmers Air Event Centre.

Pania and Eugene King, owners of Kiriroa Station at Motu, said it was a pretty emotional moment for them both when it was announced they had won.

“We were really hoping we were going to win, and when it was announced it was pretty overwhelming,” Eugene said.

“The realisation is just starting to settle in now.

“We were talking to our children last night about it, and they’re all still on a bit of a high, too.”

Mr King said they had always taken a whanau and community-based approach to the competition.

“That approach, tied in with our environmental approach to it, because it all ties in these days, was perhaps what did it for us.

“It gave us the opportunity to showcase everything we do.”

The Kings received a prize package of about $100,000 all up.

“The prizes will benefit the property and our family,” Mr King said.

“We put pressure on ourselves throughout the process, because when we set our minds to do something we put our heart and soul into it.

“So to a degree we are relieved it’s over, but at the same time we are extremely grateful for the experience and proud of the achievement.

“We are also extremely grateful for all the support we have received.

“That’s from our whanau, friends, our governance team, our community and the wider farming community.

“We received a lot of positive feedback from our field day.”

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

Eugene and Pania King became 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 his 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”.

The awards night was told the trophy finalists were proof of what diversifying land use and working to realise the potential of whenua (land) could do.

Both runners-up were congratulated for their long-term commitment to kaitiakitanga (guardianship).

“It is something we should all be proud of,” Mr Smiler said.

East Coast-based shepherd Kristy Roa won the Ahuwhenua Young Maori Farmer Award.

She works at the Hauiti Corporation’s Iwinui Station near Tolaga Bay.

Lead judge Peter Little said Ms Roa 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, Tu Harrison-Boyd, who works at Whareopaia Station near Tolaga Bay, was also a finalist for the Young Maori Farmer Award.

Friday night was a huge occasion for the King family from Motu and for Kristy Roa from Tolaga Bay when they received respectively the Te Puni Kokiri Ahuwhenua Trophy for excellence in Maori sheep and beef farming, and the Young Maori Farmer Award.

The awards were presented before a crowd of 600 at a gala function at the Farmers Air Event Centre.

Pania and Eugene King, owners of Kiriroa Station at Motu, said it was a pretty emotional moment for them both when it was announced they had won.

“We were really hoping we were going to win, and when it was announced it was pretty overwhelming,” Eugene said.

“The realisation is just starting to settle in now.

“We were talking to our children last night about it, and they’re all still on a bit of a high, too.”

Mr King said they had always taken a whanau and community-based approach to the competition.

“That approach, tied in with our environmental approach to it, because it all ties in these days, was perhaps what did it for us.

“It gave us the opportunity to showcase everything we do.”

The Kings received a prize package of about $100,000 all up.

“The prizes will benefit the property and our family,” Mr King said.

“We put pressure on ourselves throughout the process, because when we set our minds to do something we put our heart and soul into it.

“So to a degree we are relieved it’s over, but at the same time we are extremely grateful for the experience and proud of the achievement.

“We are also extremely grateful for all the support we have received.

“That’s from our whanau, friends, our governance team, our community and the wider farming community.

“We received a lot of positive feedback from our field day.”

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

Eugene and Pania King became 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 his 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”.

The awards night was told the trophy finalists were proof of what diversifying land use and working to realise the potential of whenua (land) could do.

Both runners-up were congratulated for their long-term commitment to kaitiakitanga (guardianship).

“It is something we should all be proud of,” Mr Smiler said.

East Coast-based shepherd Kristy Roa won the Ahuwhenua Young Maori Farmer Award.

She works at the Hauiti Corporation’s Iwinui Station near Tolaga Bay.

Lead judge Peter Little said Ms Roa 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, Tu Harrison-Boyd, who works at Whareopaia Station near Tolaga Bay, was also a finalist for the Young Maori Farmer Award.

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