Organic innovation wins big

TataiwhetuTrust farm in Ruatoki Valley

The winner of this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy for the top Maori Dairy farm has been awarded to Tataiwhetu Trust located in the Ruatoki Valley, south of Whakatane.

Tataiwhetu Trust is an organic dairy farm on which run 432 kiwi cross cows and carry 188 replacement stock on their two support blocks. They milk once a day and their herd produces 129,140 kgMS.

Chairman of the Ahuwhenua Trophy management committee, Kingi Smiler, says their farm is very special and is yet another example of our people working innovatively and hard and focusing on key strategic objectives.

“They join an illustrious alumnus of past winners,” says Kingi.

Chair of the Tataiwhenua Trust, Paki Nikora says that they are elated to be the winners of 2021.

“We’re elated that our ancestors had the foresight to aggregate our lands to give us the launching platform that we have now.

“It also makes it easier for us moving forward towards the future of farming,” says Paki.

“We made it our business to go to all the discussion groups and conferences trying our best to keep up with the play and where the dairy industry is going.

“A hundred years ago a cow was a cow with four tits but in this day in age it’s an Eftpos machine.

“That’s where the differences and thinking starts coming in but for us as an organic farm, our priority really is to carry on with our dairy but to minimize our impact on our land and our waterways,” says Paki.

In 1986 six Ngatirongo families agreed to combine their lands to form what is now known as the Tataiwhetu Trust Farm.

Between 1986 and 2009 the initial development of the Tataiwhetu Trust Farm was led by our Kaumatua Frank Vercoe.

When Frank Vercoe resigned as Trust Chair in 2009, Paki Nikora was appointed into the position and a new way of thinking regarding sustainable and organic farming was put into place.

In 2015 the Tataiwhetu Trust transitioned from convention milking to organic and is now fully certified by Assure Quality. In 2019 it received the Fonterra Organic certificate.

On a trip to Israel in 2017, Paki couldn’t understand why God made it the promised land.

“I came home and went up and looked at our hills and at our valleys and I realised that this is the promised land.

“That is when I realised that god gave every indigenous group their promised land and we have to be active caretakers of the land we are given,” Paki says.


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