11 Feb 2016

Iwi, high school aim for farming innovation

5:10 pm on 11 February 2016

Five iwi who own the largest single dairy farming unit in Hauraki have joined with the local high school in a new education farming initiative.

Students from Hauraki Plains College will be taught practical farming methods on Pouarua Farm near Ngatea on the Hauraki Plains.

Pare Hauraki iwi representative Waati Ngamane and director John McEnteer, and Hauraki Plains College students, launch Project Papatuanuku on Pouarua Farm.

Pare Hauraki iwi representative Waati Ngamane, Pouarua Farm director John McEnteer and participating students kick off Project Papatuanuku. Photo: SUPPLIED / Project Papatuanuku

Pouarua Farm is a 2200ha dairying operation running 5000 cows spread over eight farm units.

Project Papatuanuku aims to teach students about farming on peat land and associated science and technology, as well as research into increasing productivity.

Pouarua Farm Limited director John McEnteer said the programme would have good career benefits for the students.

"I hope that we'd encourage the students to progress in some areas of [the] primary sector or agriculture, ideally over the long-term we'll get people who'll want to work with us in our business."

The students will gain NZQA qualifications from the course, and land has also been set aside for planting native tree seedlings and, possibly, bee-keeping.

Mr McEnteer said he hoped the students would create something new and innovative.

"Increases in productivity, because we might find new ways of doing things in this highly specialised area of farming peat land. Maybe it might be a new innovation, a new discovery or an invention that the students make," he said.

Rocky King, from Hauraki Plains College, welcomes Waati Ngamane, representing the Pare Hauraki iwi, at Hauraki Plains College in Ngatea on 10 February 2016.

Rocky King, from Hauraki Plains College, welcomes Mr Ngamane at Hauraki Plains College. Photo: SUPPLIED / Project Papatuanuku

Approximately 50 Year 12 primary industry and Māori cultural studies students are involved in this initial stage of the project.

They will explore how previously peat-mined land might be made more productive for dairy or potentially used in other ways.

Hauraki Plains College head of primary industries Sarah Koch said she was excited about being involved in Project Papatuanuku.

"It is real hands-on learning for students as they grapple with the issues of the land.

"We have around 3000 native tree seedlings planted and have been exploring bee-keeping as one possibility. We hope to involve community people and expert educators such as soil scientists," she said.

Pouarua Farm Limited is owned by five Pare Hauraki iwi - Ngāti Maru, Ngāti Paoa, Ngāti Tamaterā, Ngāti Tara Tokanui and Te Patukirikiri, who purchased the former Landcorp property in 2013 as part of their Treaty of Waitangi settlement.

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