Leadership challenge for Young Māori Growers

“E tipu e rea mō ngā rā o tōu ao” – Sir Apirana Ngata

The finalists in the inaugural Ahuwhenua Young Māori Grower Award 2020 have been told that one of the big challenges facing Māori is increasing the number of young Māori into leadership roles in the horticultural sector.

The three finalists, 24 year-old Brandon Cross, Maatutaera Akonga, who is 26 and Finnisha Tuhiwai who is 25 were taking part in an intensive three day study tour designed to provide a range of insights, inspiration and experiences across the horticultural sector.

The Young Māori Farmer Award was inaugurated in 2012 and is designed to recognise up and coming young Māori in the farming and now horticulture sectors. This year the competition is for horticulture. It is built on the vision of the great leaders Sir Apirana Ngata and Lord Bledisloe who sought to inspire and encourage Māori to excel in the wider agri-sector.

One of the judges of this year’s competition Matiu Julian of Primary ITO, says the group were told that while Māori make up 28% of the workforce in the sector, only 4% are in leadership roles. He says all three finalists in this year’s competition are in leadership roles, but they are the exception rather than the rule.

He says the study tour organised by New Zealand Apples and Pears was used as a platform for observing the finalists and selecting a winner to be announced in November. He says it was designed to give the finalists an insight into the innovation taking place within horticulture, be inspired by Māori leaders and learn from key people who are involved across the horticulture value chain.

“We visited the Ngāti Pahauwera Development Trust Orchard in Napier for the finalists to be interviewed and filmed, delivered a leadership programme with special guest Kristy Roa, the 2019 Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Sheep and Beef winner, and visited the Plant and Food Research facility in Hawke’s Bay.

We were hosted by the Turners and Growers innovation team and Berries Farm NZ, and participated in a presentation from Horticulture New Zealand. To add to a busy schedule we were privileged to spend time over dinner with Ngahiwi Tomoana, the Chair of Ngati Kahungunu, his wife Mere and Karl Wixon, a designer, educator, project manager, strategist and ‘kaupapaholic’. All the finalists were treated to stories of inspiration and wisdom they will never forget” he says.

Matiu Julian says the three day study tour offered the finalists a sense of connection and celebration of Māori success as the next generation of young Māori looking to evolve and live up to the Ahuwhenua Trophy legacy in horticulture.

He says the challenge before them is to think about the types of experiences that want to have, how they want to grow and how they can give back to their whānau and communities.

He says there are many examples of Māori excellence for the finalists to be inspired by and being Māori is to be gifted with talent and vision with an innate sense for the health and wellbeing of others. This is manaakitanga.

Matiu Julian says as a special recognition of being the inaugural finalists in the Ahuwhenua Young Māori Grower competition, Peter MacGregor, who has a long and distinguished career in the Māori agri-sector, presented each of the finalists with a miniature trophy.

The winner of the Ahuwhenua Young Māori Grower competition will be announced in Rotorua on Friday 20th November at the Ahuwhenua Trophy awards dinner showcasing the award for Māori excellence in horticulture and supported by Māori leaders in the primary sector.

About the finalists: Brandon Darny Paora Nga Moki Cross, Ngai Tukairangi, Ngai Te Rangi, Te Whanau-aApanui, Ngati Porou. Brandon, 24, works as trainee Orchard Manager for the large kiwifruit orchard management and post-harvest company Seeka.

Maatutaera Tipoki Akonga, Ngai Tahu, Ngati Porou, Ngati Kahungungu. Maatutaera, 26, works as a Senior Leading Hand at Llewellyn Horticulture based in the Hastings area.

Finnisha Nicola Letitia Tuhiwai, Ngati Te Rino raua ko Te Parawhau nga hapu, ko Ngapuhi te iwi. Finnisha, 25, works as a Packhouse Manager for Maungatapere Berries located west of Whangarei in a rural town ship called Maungatapere.

More details are at www.ahuwhenuatrophy.Māori.nz. Media can contact Peter Burke: 021 224 2183 peterj@true-to-ireland.

A big thanks also to sponsors of the Ahuwhenua Young Māori Grower Award: Te Puni Kōkiri, Primary ITO, Te Tumu Paeroa and Horticulture NZ, with support also from New Zealand Apples and Pears

Ahuwhenua trophy finalists