Enter the 2026 Ahuwhenua Trophy Horticulture Competition - Judging process


First Round Judging

Initial judging of this competition will occur during late January/early February 2023 when the finalists will be selected.

Prior to judging, the entrant will be contacted to make arrangements for the property visit. This visit will take up to three hours and will include a tour of key features. The judging will relate solely to the orchard or vegetable garden 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 orchard or vegetable garden meets the judging criteria outlined below.

Each finalist will hold a field day. Guidance and financial assistance are provided to finalists to assist in staging the field day.

Finalist Judging

The judging to select the winner from the finalists will take place in late March/early April.

The process involves:

  • The judges meet with the Chair and other members of the governance team on the day prior to the field day. The orchard or vegetable garden Advisor/Consultant or Manager may participate at owners’ discretion. This meeting will focus on governance, management and financial aspects and will include a farm visit. 
  • Judges continue their assessment through the field day and the content and standard of presentation during the field day will be taken into consideration.

Judging will be based on:

  • The efficiency with which the property is run 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 grower (e.g., local climate, soil types, water, location etc)
    • Stage of development, financial structure.

Financial results where:

  • Profit will be determined by the calculation of the operating profit per hectare, that is gross income 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 balance date in 2022.

The effectiveness of the growers’ governance procedures and initiatives, in areas that include:

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


The organisers note that in recent times a number of new measures have been introduced to assess the performance of orchard and vegetable gardens, 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 horticultural businesses.

  • Innovation – is the orchard or vegetable garden looking at innovative technology, processes, tools or practices or embracing new technologies that result in real financial improvements.

The judges will also look for best practice in relation to people management and career development.

A consideration in this regard is the extent to which the governance team and management encourage staff participation in the Ahuwhenua Trophy Horticulture Competition where staff meet the competition entry criteria.

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



Factors to be Taken into Account

Governance and Strategy


  • Demonstrate active leadership of the organisation

  • Articulate the vision and strategy

  • Show evidence of the implementation and results from the strategy

  • Demonstrate professional development for Management, Trustees and/or Directors, succession planning and internships

  • What are the tangible returns and benefits to shareholders?

Social / Community /

Nga Tikanga Māori


  • Articulate the contribution to, and participation in, communities of interest to the organisation; support for whanau, local hapu, iwi, marae, and wider local community

  • Governance or management team's ability to include tikanga Māori in aspects of the business

  • Demonstrate the management and governance team’s awareness of opportunities to connect with the wider industry and beyond to share knowledge, partner for impact, develop strategy, built networks and access financial or other tangible support

Management and Performance

Commitment to Sustainability and the Environment


  • Demonstrate active soil conservation, measurement of soil health, management of sediment, nutrient management and avoidance of leaching, monitoring and minimisation of water use, the use of integrated pest management and management of agrichemicals

  • Display the organisations commitment to relevant industry best-practise, e.g., Apple Futures, KiwiGreen or equivalent

  • Show that best environmental practise is being followed in all aspects of the operation, give examples and show active measurement

  • Is there any adoption of alternative compounds and /or techniques to save the use of artificial fertilisers or chemical sprays?

  • What is being done to reduce the impact of GHG on the atmosphere?

  • Show how the organisation is actively eliminating waste, reusing and /or recycling resources



  • What steps are being taken to understand the wellbeing of your natural resources including flora and fauna

  • What practices are in place either to restore or preserve the mauri of natural resources

  • If there are cultural or historical sites of significance on the whenua, how are they preserved

  • How are new developments managed so as not to adversely impact on resources

Financial and Benchmarking


  • Clearly show understanding of the organisations Financials - Budgeting, Variance Reports and KPls in place to measure financial performance

  • What non-financial benchmarks are used and why?

  • Consistency over time – show over the last 3-5 years

  • Wealth creation for asset base growth: Leveraging Asset Base, Internal Capital Investment

  • Orchard Gate Return per ha.

  • Net profit per ha.

Customer Focus


  • Demonstrate that the produce grown meets or exceeds the customer’s expectations including product standards, growing systems, traceability, and processes

  • Show that consumer demands are measured and satisfied

  • Display how customer and consumer trends are monitored. How is this information used?

Human Resource and Health and Safety


  • How do employment policies and practices support dignity of work and understanding of social wealth creation via the enterprise?

  • Show employment contracts with job descriptions and evidence of regular reviews. Evidence of training pathways for staff, that are relevant to their roles and responsibilities

  • Show an active and positive H&S culture that highlights good staff engagement

  • Demonstrate ‘Employer of Choice’ going above and beyond other employers to attract and retain staff



  • 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 horticultural 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 property 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.