The Ahuwhenua Trophy judges play a vital role in the success of the competition. All are very experienced people who are able to accurately assess each farm and provide valuable feedback to those in governance roles and those who are involved in the day to day management of the farms.
The competition has two judging panels. The first-round judges have the task of selecting up to three finalists – in effect the short list. At this point the finalist judges become involved and they have the task of selecting the eventual winner. They attend the field days at each of the farms and the running of these days is a part of the competition criteria. The Ahuwhenua Trophy Management Committee greatly appreciates the support of those sponsors who have made top class agribusiness experts available to judge the event.
Dana Blackburn – Chief Judge
Dana was part of a team that won the trophy in 2007. He became Chief Judge in 2011 succeeding to Sir John Acland in 2011. Twenty years involvement with Māori Incorporations and Trusts has given Dana an insight into the workings of these organisations. His involvement has included roles in Operations, Management and as a Board Member.
For several years Dana has farmed a Sheep and Beef unit at Karioi, Ohakune. He has experienced the lows of the 1980s as well as being part of the new exciting developments occurring within the industry and it is the knowledge gained from these experiences that Dana brings to the Judging Panel.
Rob Gemmell is a Client Director as part of BNZ’s Corporate Agribusiness team having previously had roles as an Agri Business Partner and Senior Partner in Whanganui, together with a National Agribusiness Property Valuation role.
Rob completed a B Com Ag (Val & Fmgt) at Lincoln University, and worked as a Rural Valuer and Agri Banker in Tasmania and South Australia prior to returning to his hometown Whanganui. He considers it a privilege to be involved as one of the judges for Ahuwhenua 2022 having judged on 2 previous occasions.
Pat has been involved in the farming sector for over 40 years; starting with share farming, leasing land and moving into farm ownership. He currently farms sheep, beef and deer in Hawkes Bay with his wife Sue.
Pat’s background is very much’ hands on’ with experience in farm and environmental planning and development. He looks toward maximising potential in farms while maintaining the integrity of the whenua and te taiao. He spent 10 years on Tawapata South Inc. committee overseeing Onenui Station at Mahia and also working for Rocket Lab while they established operations at Onenui during this time. He is currently chair of the award- winning Whangawehi Catchment Management Group at Mahia.
Pat is passionate about farming, community, environmental sustainability and being the very best you can be, at whatever you do.
Ko Ngāti Tūwharetoa me Ngāti Ruanui ōku iwi.
Paula is currently the Deputy Secretary for the Regional Partnerships and Operations puni at Te Puni Kōkiri.
With a strong background in operational and policy management, Paula is highly skilled in developing and implementing Māori development initiatives, leading the brokering of opportunities with whānau, hapū, iwi and Māori at Te Puni Kōkiri. In her current role she oversees the regional network of offices for Te Puni Kōkiri and investment in innovation that will build capability among Māori communities so they can achieve their aspirations and move towards intergenerational transformation.
Prior to joining Te Puni Kōkiri in 2020, Paula contributed to Māori development at the Ministry of Education, where she worked in leadership roles since 2002. Most recently as the Director of Education, Waikato.
First Round Judges
Peter Ettema – Lead Judge
Peter Ettema has worked for the Ministry for Primary Industries - Manatū Ahu Matua (MPI) and its predecessors since 2005. He was brought up on a dairy farm in the Manawatu and has worked in the agricultural sector throughout his career, both in New Zealand and overseas. Peter is currently a Principal Advisor in the Agriculture and Investment Services Branch - Tapuwae Ahuwhenua at MPI. Peter has a Bachelor of Agricultural Science and a Masters of Environmental Management. Key areas of his work include climate change, land and environmental management and extension capability across the primary sector.
James works as an Agribusiness Partner for the BNZ. Based in the Manawatu for the past 10 years, James has a mix of both dairy and sheep and beef cattle farmers. He was brought up on a sheep and beef hill country farm in Bideford, Northeast of Masterton. Following a couple of sales, James’ home farm is now planted in pine trees and has perked a keen interest in the rapid and growing impact of carbon farming on NZ hill country farming.
James is married to Sarah who works at FMG in Feilding. They have 2 young boys and live on a 1 acre block at Hiwinui, enjoying the benefits of a strong rural community and country school. He is looking forward to being a new member on the judging team for the Ahuwhenua Trophy competition.
Dani Darke is currently a director for Ballance Agri-Nutrients and has previously chaired the Mid-Northern Beef + Lamb Farmer Council. Dani qualified from Massey with a degree in Agriculture and has a background in rural banking and the meat processing industry. Dani is a Partner at Rural Coach where she works alongside farmers to help them with farm succession planning.
Dani’s passion is farming, and when not away, she works alongside her husband Anthony on their sheep and beef property in the King Country, with their three young daughters.
Rito Tapuke – Taha Māori
Rito Tapuke affiliates to Te Atiawa, Ngāti Mutunga, Taranaki Iwi, Ngāti Tama and Ngāti Paoa. Rito is the Principal Advisor - Māori for the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. He has held a range of different roles spanning management, strategy, general legal practice, policy and accounting in Iwi, private and public sectors. Including the fisheries and aquaculture sectors. He also holds a number of governance roles in Māori trusts involved in housing and property development. Rito also has extensive tikanga Māori experience and has been the project director of the Ahuwhenua Trophy Project Team and a member of the Ahuwhenua Trophy Management Committee.
Ahuwhenua TrophyOffice 6.3Level 6, Berl House108 The Terrace