E nga iwi maha, e nga Minita o te Karauna, e pae nei i tenei po, tena koutou katoa.
Aoraki Mauka, kei aku rakatira, karaka mai, mihi mai.
A, e nga Whiringa Toa o tenei tau, tenarawa atu koutou.
Ahu Whenua, noku te maringanui, e ahei, ai ahau, te haramai i tenei po.
Tena tatau katoa.
[I acknowledge the many Iwi representatives gathered here tonight, along with Ministers of The Crown.
I acknowledge also our Ngai Tahu manawhenua.
A special acknowledgment to our finalists, congratulations.
And to Ahu Whenua I am indeed fortunate to be able to be with you tonight.
Thank you for inviting me to attend this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy Awards ceremony. It’s good to be in Christchurch and it’s an honour to be here with you this evening.
Congratulations to the finalists. Your years of hard work have paid off. Your expertise, innovation, and leadership have earned you the accolades that you deserve, and the spotlight on your achievements will inspire others to follow your example.
Tonight, I am very conscious that I am walking in the footsteps of one of my predecessors as Governor-General, Lord Charles Bledisloe, who played a role in the setting up of these Awards in 1933.
As well as establishing the Bledisloe Cup for trans Tasman rugby, and purchasing the Waitangi Treaty Grounds for the people of Aotearoa/New Zealand, Lord Bledisloe did all he could to foster interest in our history and promote new approaches in our primary industries.
Having been a pig farmer himself, he took great interest in New Zealand farming, and his lectures on science, forestry, farming, and New Zealand native plants were exhaustively informed by the latest research and were full of practical advice.
The downside was that his lectures were extremely long.
You will be relieved to know that although I am full of admiration for what he achieved, I am not following in his footsteps in that regard this evening.
In 1933, when the Ahuwhenua Trophy was launched by Sir Apirana Ngata and Lord Bledisloe, the goal was to encourage skill and proficiency in Māori farming. In the 85 years since, the vision has been constant - to encourage Māori farmers to be efficient, entrepreneurial, innovative and competitive.
I am delighted to know that the competition has evolved to include protection of the environment, investment in people and preservation of the whenua.
In an era when we are increasingly aware of the impact of environmental degradation and climate change, this attention to kaitiakitanga seems prescient and more important than ever, especially when almost a third of the Māori economy is in the primary industries of agriculture, forestry and fishing.
The Ahuwhenua Trophy puts a valuable spotlight on the substantial contribution that Māori agribusiness makes to the New Zealand economy and provides an incentive for effective and sustainable farming practices.
Congratulations to all the finalists here tonight. I am pleased to follow Lord Bledisloe’s lead and join with you in supporting Sir Apirana Ngata’s vision for Māori agribusiness and the development of leadership skills in the next generation through the Young Māori Farmer Award.
As they work to maintain the Ahuwhenua kaupapa in the 21st Century, I trust that they will continue to be guided by the whakatauki:
Manaaki whenua, manaaki tangata, haere whakamua
Care for the land, care for the people, go forward.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.