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Source: New Zealand Government

Tēnā koutou katoa.

Ko Jo Luxton tōku ingoa.

I am delighted to be here this evening to applaud the success of all those who have been part of this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy competition celebrating excellence in Māori horticulture.

I would like to acknowledge the many distinguished guests here this evening, including:

  • Representatives of Kiingi Tuheitia,
  • Tā Tumu and Lady Susan Te Heuheu,
  • UK Member of Parliament the Right Honourable David Mundell,
  • Jane Connolly, Ireland’s Ambassador to New Zealand,
  • Other representatives of international consulates and embassies,
  • my fellow Parliamentarians, and
  • Māori and the primary sector industries.

And of course, I would like to mihi to the three finalists of the Ahuwhenua Trophy competition – MIL Whiritoa Orchards, Wi Pere Trust, and Ngāi Tukairangi Trust – and to the Ahuwhenua Trophy Committee. You have all overcome significant challenges just to be here tonight, and your perseverance is a real testament of your commitment to your whenua, and to the Ahuwhenua Trophy kaupapa.

Best wishes also to the finalists of this year’s Young Māori Grower competition, and to the previous winners of both competitions who are here tonight.

It is now my honour to introduce the second of this year’s finalists in the Ahuwhenua Trophy competition.

As the MP for Rangitata, I am a proud South Islander. However, I spent many formative years in the North Island including at school in Gisborne – so it’s a particular privilege to introduce, from Gisborne – Wi Pere Trust.

If the name sounds familiar it may be because Wi Pere Trust is no stranger to winning awards – the Trust won last year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy competition for excellence in Māori sheep and beef farming.

Alongside its other farming operations, Wi Pere Trust has a thriving horticultural business producing kiwifruit, apples, citrus, blueberries, and persimmons for both domestic and export markets.

Wi Pere Trust is a long-standing enterprise established over 120 years ago. Its horticultural arm now employs eight full-time staff and up to 85 casual staff every year.

The Trust plays a significant role supporting its shareholders and the descendants of Wi Pere – distributing dividends and grants, and providing strong support for local marae, kōhanga reo, and papakāinga.

As with all three Ahuwhenua Trophy finalists tonight, the Trust’s farms and orchards were impacted by the recent weather events. I would like to commend the Trust and the other finalists for their strength and resilience in rebuilding from such a catastrophic event, and to reiterate the Government’s ongoing commitment to support the impacted regions and people.

I take this opportunity to extend my thanks to all the horticulturalists and landowners in the audience for your hard work through recent years.

Thanks again to the Ahuwhenua Trophy Committee for organising this wonderful event. Best wishes to the finalists in both the Ahuwhenua Trophy and Young Māori Grower competitions.

Without further ado, please welcome to the stage Trudy Meredith, Trustee for the Wi Pere Trust.

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.