A kiwifruit orchard in the Eastern Bay of Plenty has taken out the inaugural Ahuwhenua Trophy for excellence in Māori horticulture.
The Ahuwhenua Trophy competition, which is in its 87th year, celebrates excellence by Māori across the farming sector.
For this first time this year the award was focused on recognising excellence in horticulture.
The award went to Te Kaha 15B Hineora Orchard, a 11.5 hectare freehold block of Māori land at Te Kaha, 65km east of Ōpōtiki.
It received trophy at a function in Rotorua attended by 750 people including the Minister for Māori Development and Minister of Agriculture, other politicians and dignitaries,
Ahuwhenua Trophy Management Committee chair Kingi Smiler said they had shown great vision, persistence and resilience to establish their operation and to achieve some impressive results.
Smiler said this was the first time in the 87-year-history of the competition that the trophy had been open to Māori horticulturalists. He said Māori were significant players in the horticultural sector and must be recognised for their contribution to the New Zealand economy.
"All three finalists have helped set a benchmark for future entrants in this competition which will be hard to eclipse. What makes it more impressive is the fact that they have done this in one of the most difficult times in the history of the country when uncertainty is a way of life," he said.
The other finalists were Otama Marere in Paengaroa near the Bay of Plenty town of Te Puke, which produces a mixture of Green, SunGold and organic kiwifruit as well as avocados, and Ngāi Tukairangi Trust, which is very large kiwifruit operation with one of its orchards based at Matapihi.
Meanwhile Maatutaera Akonga was named as the winner of the inaugural Ahuwhenua Young Māori Grower Award.
The 26-year-old of Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Porou and Ngāti Kahungungu descent is a senior leading hand at Llewellyn Horticulture, which grows apples, pears and peaches near Hastings.