National | Ahuwhenua

Meet the finalists: Young Māori Farmer of the Year

The finalists for the 2022 Ahuwhenua Young Māori farmer of the year have been announced, off the back of what judges say has been a challenging time for agriculture.

In its 20th year, the Young Māori farmer award is a spin-off of the Ahuwhenua trophy, which, inaugurated 88 years ago recognises the most environmentally friendly, innovative and best managed Māori farms across the motu.

The Young farmer award celebrates up and comers in the agriculture sector, who are most likely to go on to leadership positions in the coming years.

Judge Aaron Hunt says Māori are naturally close to the whenua, so it’s logical that many choose career paths in this sector.

“Despite all the headwinds, globally and locally, the sheep and beef industry remain a great career option offering an appealing outdoor lifestyle but where technology and innovation is taking the sector to new levels. The opportunities in this and other areas of the primary sector are limitless,”.

Meet the finalists

Young Māori Farmer of the Year Finalist Chloe Butcher-Herries, Ngāti Mahanga, Waikato-Tainui

Chloe Butcher-Herries Ngāti Mahanga, Waikato-Tainui

Chloe (30), is currently employed as the Assistant Farm Manager on Newstead Farm, a bull beef farm in the Puketapu district near Napier.

On Newstead Farm kaitiakitanga is something they take pride in – fencing off waterways, riparian planting and minimising sediment loss and N leaching. Chloe says it is great to be working on a farm where these practices are taken into action: looking after our whenua that we farm on.

Chloe went straight into a shepherding role once she left school at the age of 16, where she learnt the art of mustering steep on the hill country with her kuri. Chloe enjoys being involved in all animal health, general and maintenance jobs. She even worked a couple years in the dairy industry which she enjoyed, but sheep and beef is her passion.

Off farm Chloe enjoys learning te reo Mãori and is attending evening classes in town. She also enjoys going to the gym and is currently training to enter the Central Districts powerlifting competition in November – it will be her first time entering a powerlifting competition.

Young Māori Farmer of the Year Finalist Puhirere Te-Akainga Tamanui Tau Ngati Ira, Ngati Porou, Ngāpuhi

Puhirere Te-Akainga Tamanui Tau Ngati Ira, Ngati Porou, Ngāpuhi

Puhirere is 24-years-old and currently employed as a Shepherd working on Rototahi and Puatai Stations, which are part of Whangara Farms located south of Tolaga Bay.

Puhirere thought he would follow in the footsteps of his grandfather and father and become builder, but after a few years realised that wasn’t for him. He then took a job as a general hand working for his father-in-law, who at the time was managing Pakarae Station at Whangara Farms.

This year Puhirere is looking at doing the PrimaryITO Level 5 Production Management qualification, as he recently completed ITO Level 4. He feels he is fortunate to work for a very progressive Māori farming corporation such as Whangara Farms, who have been very supportive.

Puhirere says he loves farming and playing for the local rugby club.

Young Māori Farmer of the Year Finalist, Rameka Eli Edwards, Ngāpuhi

Rameka Eli Edwards Ngāpuhi

Rameka (30) is Manager on the 560ha farms Puketitire and Waitete south of Te Kuiti.

After leaving school, Rameka wanted to earn a trade and pursued engineering. He gained his qualifications in Level 4 Heavy Fabrication and worked in the field for seven years. Although he regrets not starting his career in farming earlier, Rameka feels his engineering experience has been beneficial for a variety of farm and mechanical needs.

He was born in Te Awamutu and raised on sheep and beef farms around the area. Growing up he was hands-on helping his dad on farm, which shaped his love and passion for farming. He knew this was the lifestyle he wanted when raising his tamariki.

In his spare time, Rameka enjoys coaching Taimana's rugby team at Te Kuiti Primary School and spending time with his whānau having adventures on and off farm including hunting, which has rubbed off on both kids.

The 2022 Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer of the Year will be announced on Friday 21 October 2022 at the Pettigrew Green Arena in Taradale, Hawke’s Bay.