Eugene and Pania King of Kiriroa Station are the winners of the Ahuwhenua Trophy for the top Māori sheep and beef farm in Aotearoa for 2019.
Presented with the prestigious trophy at a gala dinner in Gisborne, the husband and wife team were applauded on being “outstanding role models for Māori.”
Kingi Smiler, Ahuwhenua Trophy Management Committee Chairman said Eugene and Pania were a great example of a couple who set challenging goals and then achieved them.
He says the King whānau worked so well together, helping each other to achieve farm ownership and now they have earned a unique place in the legacy of the Ahuwhenua Trophy.
The other finalists were Whangara Farms, Gisborne, and Te Awahohonu Forest Trust – Gwavas Station at Tikokino, west of Hastings.
Kingi says all this year’s finalists ran farming operations which are among the best in Aotearoa and for that matter the world. They all give a great example of the standard of Māori farming in the country.
Whānau working & achieving together, for now, and the future
Kiriroa Station is situated in the Motu Valley, halfway between Gisborne and Opotiki. The Kings bought Kiriroa in 2014, having spent 12 year’s farming in a whānau partnership while building up equity for their own farm.
Through hard work and commitment, the King whānau all had one goal in common, owning their own farms.
“We are grateful for having the opportunity to farm with whānau, and are proud of what we have achieved, “says Eugene and Pania.
Not only owning their farms but striving to be the best in farming, is a part of the King whānau. Eugene’s sister Nukuhia and her husband Bart Hadfield won the competition in 2015, and brother Ron and his wife Justine were finalists in 2017.
The King whānau live and breath their whakatauaki:
Poipoia te whenua, te wai, te hunga tangata ano hoki e ora tonu ia tatou!
Look after the land, water, and the people, and all will look after you!
They feel lucky to have taonga like the Motu river, and consider themselves kaitiaki to the 2.2 km of the river flowing through Kiriroa.
In 2015 Eugene and Pania retired 2ha of their land to help increase the number of weka that live in the river. With support from the community, the local school, and the Gisborne District Council, the Kings established a weka wetland. By planting native plants and with ongoing monitoring and maintaining of the habitat, the weka are now thriving. There are three QEII covenants on Kiriroa and a further two to be done within the next three years.
Recognising Māori excellence in farming
The Ahuwhenua Trophy remains the distinguished accolade to win in Māori farming and is recognised as the most prestigious and comprehensively judged award in New Zealand.
Te Tumu Paeroa is proud to be a gold sponsor the Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award, to promote and recognise excellence in Māori Farming.