Harepaora Ngaheu, the 26 year-old from Te Teko, has won the 2018 Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award.

Harepaora Ngaheu haka

The announcement was made by the Māori Trustee and Chief Executive of Te Tumu Paeroa, Jamie Tuuta at an awards function in Christchurch run as part of the Ahuwhenua Trophy for the top Māori dairy farm. About 650 guests including the Governor General, the Ministers of Agriculture and Māori Development and other dignitaries were present at the function.

Harepaora Ngaheu was selected from two other finalists, Mathew Pooley, (25), who is the manager on Ngāi Tahu’s Maungatere dairy farm near Oxford in Canterbury and Cheyenne Wilson (25), who is an assistant manager on Lochan Mor farm near Ashburton.

The winner Harepaora Ngaheu is a manager on a dairy farm near Te Teko but plans to go contract milking for the same farmer in the new season. Harepaora was a finalist in the 2016 competition. His iwi affiliation is Ngāti Awa and Te Whānau ā Apanui.

The Young Māori Farmer Award was first held in 2012 and is designed to recognised talented up- and-coming young Māori farmers. It's also designed to encourage young Māori to make farming a career choice and to showcase to prospective employers, the talent pool that exists within Māori.

Since its inception the event has created interest within and outside Māoridom and has given finalists and winners a huge sense of pride and achievement. All have gone on to greater things since winning this event.

Great pool of young Māori farmers

Lead judge Peter Little says once again there was a good response for entrants for the awards. He says selecting a winner is never an easy task given the pool of young Māori, who in a short space of time are making great progress in their careers in agriculture.

Peter Little says Harepaora Ngaheu exemplifies all that is good about young Māori who are making successful careers in the primary sector. He says Harepaora has shown great commitment to his work and family as well as excellent leadership in the community.

“He will do a great job as a role model for other young Māori contemplating a career in the agri-business sector. They need people like Harepaora who has not had an easy life but through determination and hard work has shown that it is possible to come through adversity and achieve at a high level. It is important that young Māori realise that every day there are new opportunities opening up for them as more land is brought into production and other land improved,” he says.

Peter Little says the training undertaken by the finalists have helped them establish themselves in good jobs and provided an excellent platform for them to progress to senior positions within the dairy industry.

Winners profile
Harepaora Ngaheu - Ngāti Awa, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui

Harepaora Ngaheu and trophy

Twenty six year old Harepaora Ngaheu is from the Bay of Plenty and is of Ngāti Awa and Te Whānau-ā-Apanui descent. He was a finalist in 2016, and felt that he lost out because of his inexperience, but this time around feels he has the necessary attitude and skills to be a positive role model for young Māori.

Harepaora was born in Porirua but his family soon moved north to a small rural town Te Teko near Whakatane, where he didn't make as much out of school as he would have liked.

For many years Harepaora drifted around but a key milestone in his life was his 21st birthday, which Harepaora remembers was the day he put his first cups on a dairy cow as part of a training course he was on at the time. Harepaora is also thankful for Aiesha his partner and two beautiful daughters Reve, 9; and Kesiah, 6 who have also grounded him.

Finding the dairy industry

He found the dairy industry and it found him. His break came when a local farmer Colin Wilson took him in hand and offered him a permanent job – a move that has proved life changing for him and his young family.

After a year working with Colin Wilson, Harepaora was then put in touch with another dairy farmer and it was there that he learned more about farm management. The following year Harepaora obtained a manager’s position and that gave him the opportunity to put all his skills and knowledge into practice. At the same time, he completed a level 3 course with tectra/emerge and is now doing the level 5 diploma in agribusiness. He says this is learning about how to run a profitable business and develop a wider knowledge of dairy farm management. He is currently a Manager on one of Colin Wilson’s farms, however in the 2018/19 season Harepaora plans to go contract milking, and with Colin’s help, look into stock ownership while saving cash assets to open up more opportunities.

Dairy farming has been a lifesaver for Harepaora and has provided him and his family with a secure and enjoyable future. He says he wants to give back to the community by taking in young people like him that may need a new kick start in life, and help kids straight from school into the work force. He wants to teach them life skills and get them involved in saving their earnings to help pay their own way in life: do the mahi, get the treats!

He likes to fish, dive and hunt and has been both a keen rugby and rugby league player and in fact developed, managed and played in his own rugby league team. Harepaora loves the outdoors and animals and also enjoys working with big machinery. He also loves problem solving – finding out why a piece of equipment in the milking shed or a tractor has broken down and fixing it. Now he says it’s time to hang up his rugby boots and focus on his farming future and follow his girls to their sports and hopefully if it’s a beautiful day to go fishing or hunting.

Harepaora’s entry into the dairy industry has given him new hope, allowed him to demonstrate his potential as a farmer and to achieve new goals. His aspirations are not only to become a 50/50 Sharemilker in five years, but to help get young Māori off the streets and into employment whether it be farming or running their own business. Harepaora wants to be in a position where he can help lift his community.