11 Mar 2014

Chance to see Maori farm award finalists in action

2:37 pm on 11 March 2014

The public are getting the chance over the next week to have a behind-the-fence look at the dairy farming operations of the three finalists in this year's Ahuwhenua Maori farm awards.

Each of the finalists is running a field day and the first one - at the Putauaki Trust's Himiona farm in Bay of Plenty on Tuesday - got a big turnout, with an estimated 200 visitors.

The farm milks 570 cows and is on track to produce 225,000kg of milk solids this season. The trust owns 57ha but has added 120ha of leased land from neighbouring and local whānau trusts.

One of the things that all three finalists have in common is the way that smaller trusts and family farms have co-operated to create larger and more effective operations.

Farm consultant Peter Livingstone says he's been involved in Maori farming since 1992, mainly in an advisory or supervisory role, and has seen huge changes. "I've seen a lot of these trust incorporations come from nothing...and now they've got multi-million-dollar businesses," he says.

He says some are now also investing in like-minded organisations.

The second field day will be run on Friday at the Te Rua o Te Moko farm in Taranaki. The third Ahuwhenua finalist, Ngāti Awa Farms' Ngakauroa farm in Bay of Plenty, will hold its field day on Wednesday next week .

The winner will be announced in June.