Far North farm wins trophy for excellence
A Far North sheep and beef farm run by Omapere Rangihamama Trust farm near Kaikohe has won the Ahuwhenua trophy for Maori excellence in farming.
The trophy, along with a special medal and a replica trophy, was presented to trust chairman Raniera (Sonny) Tau.
The trust also received more than $40,000 in prizes. The other two finalists were RA and JG King Partnership of Puketawa Station near Eketahuna and Pukepoto Farm Trust at Ongarue near Taumarunui.
Omapere is a 902ha (effective) mixed sheep and beef property transitioning into a mainly bull beef rearing operation. The farm borders Lake Omapere and since 2007, the trust has embarked on an extensive strategic plan to improve the farm.
Ahuwhenua Trophy Management Committee chairman Kingi Smiler said the trust had a strong strategic and practical commitment to improving the environment of the property.
Omapere was also doing a lot to encourage its young people to make a career in agribusiness by offering scholarships and this again highlighted its intergenerational strategic thinking. Up until the 1950s the Omapere land had separate titles occupied by individual owners. After amalgamation, it was run as a sheep and beef unit under Maori Affairs management before being taken over by the trust from 2007.
The planned move away from sheep to beef has largely been driven by better returns for bull beef and poorer returns for wool, sheep and lamb. The farm is mainly undulating country with some flats making it ideal as a finishing farm.
The bulls are bought in as rising one year olds and then sold on as two year olds. The stock are only grass fed. A unique feature of Omapere Farm is that it borders New Zealand’s only Maori-owned lake, considered a sacred site. It also protects the oldest Ngapuhi burial caves where only Ngapuhi chiefs are interred.
Jordan Biddle, 21, a shepherd on Pihanui Station, south of Wairoa, owned by Ngati Pahauwera, was named Ahuwhenua Young Maori Farmer of the year.
Judge Peter Little said Biddle had shown great commitment to his work, excellent leadership and he would do a great job as a role model for other young Maori contemplating an agribusiness career.
Omapere Rangihamama Trust chairman Sonny Tau and farm manager Lloyd Brennan grasp the Ahuwhenua Trophy.