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Source: New Zealand Government

Kia hiwa rā! Kia hiwa rā! He hikinga manawa, he koanga ngākau – tēnā rā tātou katoa.

It is my pleasure to be able to welcome you all here today for the announcement of the finalists of the Ahuwhenua Trophy competition.

My colleague Hon Damien O’Connor, the Minister for Agriculture, will announce the finalists shortly.

I know you are all eagerly awaiting that announcement, so I will be brief in my welcome.

These awards are the most prestigious Māori farming awards in the world and Māori agribusiness is a powerful driver in the New Zealand economy.

Profits for Māori authority farming businesses reached $97 million in 2018, which is almost twice the 2017 figures. 

On average, Māori farms have four times more land than the average New Zealand farm.

This land is used in many ways. Last year horticulture was introduced into the awards.

This shows the land use innovation that is still possible and how far we have come in Aotearoa in the farming sector.

Māori are diversifying into new areas including nut, honey and kiwifruit production.

The focus for this year’s competition is dairy and Māori dairy is a big business in Aotearoa.

Māori dairy farmers own an estimated 100 million shares in Fonterra with some of the major players in the sector being large incorporations.

Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, the outlook for Māori-owned farms is strong.

But Māori agribusiness is so much more than just an economic force.

The concept of kaitiakitanga is more relevant than ever.

Our traditional values pre-date contemporary needs and the emerging focus on sustainable practices.

The Māori dairy farmers we celebrate through the Ahuwhenua Trophy walk tall in both worlds.

As Minister for Māori Development, my role is to ensure whānau Māori landowners are supported to fulfill their aspirations for their whenua.

This also includes the sustainable development of their land.

The Ahuwhenua Trophy provides a premium stage to showcase whānau-led models in the agricultural and horticultural sectors.

All are shining examples of Māori success.

Success for Māori is success for all New Zealand – it lifts everyone.

It is also why this Government is right behind supporting whānau in their whenua aspirations.

Targeted amendments to Te Ture Whenua Māori Act took effect on Waitangi Day this year.

The practical and technical changes made, relating to succession, dispute resolution and related matters, will ensure the legislation works better.

These amendments will also support the Māori Land Court to operate effectively.

Last year, Te Puni Kōkiri launched, the whenua knowledge website.

It is a fantastic resource to help landowners of whenua Māori navigate their way through what can be a complicated journey to utilise their whenua. 

This includes providing good information about Māori freehold land investment opportunities.

It can also help all Māori landowners to make important decisions about their whenua.

This kete of knowledge complements other whenua Māori-related services provided by Te Puni Kōkiri.

Services, such as the on-the-ground advisory support in some regions.

Last year my predecessor in this portfolio, Hon Nanaia Mahuta, announced a package of changes to the Local Government (Rating) Act.

Changes that would remove some of the barriers to using and developing Māori land.

There are other challenges to overcome and mazes to navigate to unlock the full and rich social, cultural and economic potential of our whenua.

I believe the changes that this government and I have made remove some of the long-standing barriers.

This will enable whānau, hapū and Iwi development through their whenua.

Toitū te whenua, toitū te tangata.

Nō reira, tēnā tātou katoa.