17 Apr 2015

An iwi-based Māori farming initiative

10:52 am on 17 April 2015

A large Māori farming corporation in Whanganui is using a marae homestead near Waiōuru to train young adults from its iwi to run all of the incorporation's farms.

Toni Waho.

Toni Waho. Photo: Supplied / Te Atihau Trust

The Awhiwhenua Land Based Training Farm School based at Ngā Mōkai Papakainga, under the shadow of Mount Ruapehu, is Ātihau Whanganui Incorporation's third iteration of a training programme that its trust funds.

Chair of Te Ātihau Trust, Toni Waho, said that while its goal is to have uri (descendants) running all its farms, he admitted that the course was lacking a cultural and kaitiakitanga (guardianship) component.

"The fact that they [the students] are based on the marae is a bonus, but we haven't yet built in the Māori agricultural component, and we are looking at doing that," Mr Waho said.

"Utilising my networks within education to be able to pull down off the New Zealand Qualifications framework a bundle of standards that would package up to be relevant for looking after tribal assets and looking after the whenua, and being the kaitiaki of whenua."

He said the Ātihau-Whanganui Incorporation was considering possible candidates who were over 17 years old who would make great farm managers.

"The hope is, it's longer term where we're targeting a different group to attract to the programme.

"We're targeting older - when I say older, I mean, late teens early 20s, people who are keen on agriculture primarily to set them up to take a journey on agricultural training to get into the industry, whether that be on Ātihau-Whanganui [farms] if there are jobs available, or elsewhere in the sector."

Mr Waho said the vision was to train enough of their own descendants to be able to staff the organisation in the future.

He said the incorporation had already shoulder-tapped a number of people to attend the Awhiwhenua Farm School, and encouraged any other tribal descendants who might be interested to get in contact.

The project is a joint initiative between Ātihau Whanganui Incorporation (AWHI) and agricultural training provider Land Based Training.

Ātihau Whanganui Incorporation farms 40,000 hectares across seven sheep and beef-breeding stations including two finishing farms along the Whanganui River and on the Ruapehu plateau, along with a dairy farm near Ōhākune.

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