Te Arawa ki te rangi, Te Arawa ki te whenua, Te Arawa waka, Te Arawa tangata
Karanga mai ki a mātou, kua pae mai, ki te po Tohu Ahuwhenua
Nōku te maringa te haere mai, i runga i te reo a Apirana Ngata
ki te whakanui te kaupapa
No reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa
I acknowledge you Te Arawa and your connections to Ranginui and Papatuanuku, The sentinel waka Te Arawa, The sentinels of the waka Te Arawa
We have arrived in response to the invitation to attend this most auspicious occasion, the Ahuwhenua Awards.
I am most honoured to be here at the call of the late Sir Apirana Ngata to celebrate his vision, by recognising the Māori agricultural industry.
I specifically acknowledge Hon Nanaia Mahuta, Hon Willie Jackson, and Hon Damien O’Connor;
Tā Tumu te Heuheu, Tā Tamati Reedy, Kahurangi Naida Glavish, Tā Wira Gardiner,
The Chairman of Ahuwhenua Trophy Management Committee Kingi Smiler, the CE of TPK Dave Samuels,
And the Maori Trustee, Dr Charlotte Severne.
Thank you for inviting David and me to the 2020 Ahuwhenua Awards.
In such an uncertain and unpredictable pandemic year, it’s so good to be able to gather like this and celebrate success and achievement with you all.
First, a big thank you to all the people here who work hard to keep our nation’s pātaka stocked – and also earn vital export dollars with their produce.
Thank you also for your contributions as essential workers during the lockdown. International consumers, as well as New Zealanders, are deeply grateful that you kept the supply chain going.
When the Ahuwhenua Trophy was first awarded in 1932, the world was grappling a different kind of crisis – the Great Depression.
Lord Bledisloe, Governor-General at the time, and Sir Apirana Ngata, the Minister of Native Affairs, wanted to encourage more efficient use of Māori land and best practice in Māori farming.
Lord Bledisloe was a champion of progressive farming methods, sport and the arts. Like Ngata, he also believed that competition brought out the best in people.
So as well as gifting the Waitangi Treaty Grounds to our nation, he generously bestowed a wide range of cups, medals and prizes in areas as diverse as landscape painting, gardens that featured New Zealand plants,
speech-making on New Zealand history topics,
the best exhibit of New Zealand apples at the Imperial Fruit Show,
the ladies’ singles title in tennis, and
Of course, the one he is most frequently remembered for – in trans-Tasman rugby – the Bledisloe Cup.
Ngata and Bledisloe devised the Ahuwhenua Trophy as a way of recognising and encouraging excellence in Māori farming.
Tonight I am delighted to join Ministers of the Crown in honouring their partnership and kaupapa.
If Bledisloe and Ngata were here this evening, I’m sure they’d be pleased to see this year’s focus on horticulture.
Lord Bledisloe’s farm in the UK was certainly diversified. In addition to pigs, cattle, and dairy cows, he had orchards, and grew potatoes and grain.
Ngata and Bledisloe would be very impressed with the 21st century export returns for such star performers such as kiwifruit, wine, apples and honey.
And They would be pleased to see the many opportunities horticulture provides for training and employment.
And they would applaud iwi enterprises that are working together on research, information sharing, distribution and marketing, because as the whakatauki from King Tawhiao says:
Ki te Kotahi te kākaho ka whati; ki te kāpuia, e kore e whati.
When reeds stand alone, they can be broken; but standing together they are unbreakable.
Sir Apirana’s long-term goal for Māori land development was inter-generational wellbeing, rather than short-term, unsustainable gains.
He subscribed to the values of mana whenua and kaitiakitanga that had sustained communities in the centuries before colonisation – when skilled gardeners were highly regarded for their understanding of soil and seasons, and for their success in nurturing plants.
There was also a proud history of iwi enterprise in the 19th century, capitalising on introduced grains, vegetables and fruit – and prior to the New Zealand Wars – sustaining European communities in Aotearoa and New South Wales.
In so many ways, tonight’s award for horticulture brings all that history full circle, building as it does on a long tradition of expertise, understanding of the environment the cycle of the moon, successful innovation and enterprise.
Tonight, we give due recognition to the people who have mastered those arts and will help lead the sector ensuring a regenerative and sustainable future for our whenua and for the well-being of the people.
Congratulations to all the finalists tonight.
You can be proud of what you have achieved, knowing that your success will breed more success – your stories will inspire other people to see what is possible, and to follow your example, just as Ngata and Bledisloe intended.
Kia ora huihui tatou katoa.