21 Apr 2015

Boost for Maori leadership in agriculture

7:35 am on 21 April 2015

A South Island iwi-led agricultural training programme is expanding and offering higher level qualifications as it seeks to boost Māori leadership.

Chris Eruera is second-in-charge of a Ngai Tahu farm, established at Eyrewell on the northern banks of the Waimakariri River, in Canterbury.

Chris Eruera is a Maori farming leader - he is second-in-charge of a Ngai Tahu farm, established at Eyrewell on the banks of the Waimakariri River Photo: Ngāi Tahu Farming

Whenua Kura is a tribal-led training partnership between Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Te Tapuae o Rehua, Ngāi Tahu Farming and Lincoln University.

It started last year as a one-year certificate in agriculture providing both classroom learning and on-farm experience at the Ngāi Tahu farms.

This year it has been broadened to include a diploma in agriculture, a level 4 certificate in agriculture and a diploma in agricultural business.

Programme manager for Whenua Kura, Renata Hakiwai said it reflected the desire to develop Māori leadership in the agricultural sector.

"It's around growing Māori leadership and I suppose a number of other agriculture initiatives only go up to a level 3 or 4," Mr Hakiwai said.

"It's about creating a vertically intergrated pathway for our tauira (students) ... with a vision for Māori leadership, so we need to increase capability and we need to continue that learning".

Te Manu Korihi asked Mr Hakiwai if this signalled that Ngāi Tahu had confidence in agriculture being a sustainable industry for the iwi.

"Without agriculture and without farming there is no kai on the table, so it is a sustainable future and it is a wealth creation pathway for our people," he said.

"For example farm managers these days, you know, you could earn from the high 80s (80-thousand dollars per year) to a six-figure salary and long gone are the days of hard work, hard grind out on the farm, nowadays you could run a farm from your iPhone".

Scholarships awarded

The expansion of the programme is being launched this morning at Tuahiwi Marae in Christchurch with the awarding of scholarships.

Whenua Kura is presenting scholarships to its first cohort of students studying at leadership level.

The launch ceremony at Tuahiwi Marae is being attended by Minister for Māori Development and Whanau Ora, Te Ururoa Flavell, iwi leaders and business leaders as well as other dignitaries.

Among the 16 scholarship recipients are candidates from Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Porou, Te Rarawa, Tūranganui-ā-Kiwa, and Waikato/Tainui.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Tā Mark Solomon said it is important for Māori to consider careers that offer life-long opportunity and connect with their iwi.

"The opportunities available in agriculture are ever increasing and far greater than most people appreciate. From directorships to consultants, farm managers and equipment specialists, modern agriculture generates diverse career opportunities."

"We want our people taking a lead in new sustainable farming approaches, approaches that are designed to sustain and nurture the land while still ensuring its productivity."

Renata Hakiwai said Whenua Kura is open to anyone who can claim Māori heritage and is not just exclusive to Ngāi Tahu.

The programme is also being supported by the government through the South Island's Whānau Ora agency, Te Pūtahitanga.