Judging Process

Enter the 2024 Ahuwhenua Trophy Dairy Competition - Judging process


First Round Judging: Initial judging of this competition will occur during late January/early February 2024 when the finalists will be selected. Prior to judging, the entrant will be contacted to make arrangements for the farm visit. This visit will take up to three hours and will include a tour of key farm features. The judging will relate solely to the dairy components of the farm business. The Chair (or other elected representative), Supervisor and Manager are required to meet with the First Round Judges at the beginning of the visit. It is important to allocate your time wisely and to demonstrate clearly to the judges how your dairy business meets the judging criteria outlined below. Each finalist is required to hold a field day. Guidance and considerable financial assistance is provided to finalists to assist in staging the field day.

Finalist Judging:

The judging to select the national winner from the finalists will take place in late March/early April and the process involves:

  • At approximately 10am on the morning prior to the field day the judges will meet with the owner or owners of the business who carry the greatest responsibility for the business i.e. Chairman and other members of the governance team. The Farm Supervisor/Consultant Professional advisors and the Manager if engaged may participate at owners’ discretion. This meeting will focus on governance, management and financial aspects and will include a farm visit.
  • Judges will continue their judging assessment through their attendance at the field day and the content and standard of presentation during the field day will be taken into consideration.

Judging will be based on:

A. THE EFFICIENCY WITH WHICH THE PROPERTY IS FARMED RELATIVE TO ITS POTENTIAL. This will not be based solely on financial measures such as profit per hectare or return on business capital. These measures will be taken as a guide but consideration will also be given to other factors such as:

  • The physical resources available to the farmer (e.g. local climate, soil types, water, location, contour etc)
  • Stage of development, financial structure.


  • Profit will be determined by the calculation of the operating profit per hectare, that is gross income, net of stock purchases (adjusted for changes in livestock numbers) less working expenses, Interest, development, capital expenditure, drawings, dividends and taxation are not included in the calculation of operating profit
  • Financial performance will be determined from annual financial statements for the three years ending at the farm balance date in 2021.


  • The adoption of innovative farming systems and reinvestment in the business
  • The pursuit of sustainable management strategies including the up-skilling of all farm personnel
  • Keeping up to date with new farming methods and ways to monitor performance
  • The level of recognition given to kaitiakitanga and ngā tikanga Māori in the operation of the farming enterprise.


The organisers note that in recent times a number of new measures have been introduced to assess the performance of farming and other businesses. These include:

  • Triple Bottom Line Reporting which focuses a business on its economic value, added or lost, as well as environmental and social value. Entrants are encouraged to outline their efforts in these areas to the judges during their visits.

  • Cost of Production Analysis – calculating the cost of production per unit of output. This encourages the setting of goals for improved performance and allows comparisons to be made between different types of farming businesses. We encourage all farmers to discuss the benefits of adopting such an approach with their advisors.

  • Innovation – is the farm looking at innovative technology, processes, tools, practices or embracing new technologies that result in real improvements i.e. financial, farming etc.

The judges will also look for best practice in relation to people management, including health and safety, and career development; a consideration in this regard is the extent to which the governance team and management encourage staff participation in the Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer of the Year competition where staff meet the competition entry criteria.

In considering this the judges will utilise as a guideline the following weighting:





Governance and Strategy


  • Strong leadership

  • Trustee understanding of the business

  • Good strategy

  • Monitoring of strategy

  • Appropriate capability that aligns with strategy

  • Shareholders are actively engaged and informed

  • Succession is in place

  • Implementation of strategy

Social, Community, Ngā Tikanga Māori


  • Contribution to, and participation in, communities of interest to the organisation support for local hapū, marae, and wider local community affairs

  • Governance or management team’s ability to manage tikanga Māori aspects of the business

  • Identification and protection of cultural sites

  • Values use of tikanga Māori within the business

Financial and Benchmarking


  • Wealth creation – Leveraging Asset Base, Internal Capital Investment/Development ROC

  • Understanding the Financials – Budgeting, Variance Reports, KPIs

  • Benchmarking is undertaken

  • Economic Farm Surplus (EFS)

  • GFR/HA

  • FWE as a % of GFR

  • Consistency over time

Feed Production


  • Production system and strategy

  • Development and sustainability of soil fertility

  • Quality of permanent pastures (composition and nutritive value)

  • Forage crop yields and integrated use

  • Use of least cost supplements and tactical use of nitrogen

Animal Performance


  • Strategy, goals and objectives

  • Stock health and welfare

  • Genetic improvement

  • Reproductive and growth performance

  • Supply of product to market specifications

Human Resource and Health and Safety


  • Policy and direction

  • Compliance monitoring

  • Risk management strategy

  • Employment agreements and job specifications

  • Performance review approach

  • Training support and career development

  • Team culture and attitude

  • Health and safety plans and implementation

Environment / Sustainability Goals and Strategies


  • Environmental plans in place

  • Environmental performance is being monitored and promoted

  • Biodiversity is being enhanced

  • Sustainability strategies in place

  • KPIs in place

  • Environmental plans are being implemented

  • KPIs being met



  • Show the pathways that are in place to innovate

  • Demonstrate how innovation was accessed and where appropriate how was it adopted

  • How is knowledge and tech transfer applied to the organisation




Judges will make their decisions based on a number of factors including the points allocated in the judging criteria set out above. Accordingly entrants need to demonstrate – both in written material supplied and in their presentation on the day – that they are performing in relation to the criteria set out in the table above. Feedback will be given by judges to entrants on the strengths and weaknesses of the dairy farming business based on the information provided and their assessments on the days of judging.


Before the judges are appointed, they are required to declare any potential conflict of interest. Where possible the judging panel will be made up of persons who are not participating in the competition but, where this is not feasible, a judge shall not participate in judging of a farm where he/she has interests associated with an entry. Likewise judges shall not participate in the judging of the winner if they have an interest in one of the finalists. The decision of the judges is final and no correspondence will be entered into.