2022 Finalist - Onuku Māori Lands Trust

In the photo: L-R: Peter Livingston, Maramena Vercoe, Barnett Vercoe, Moyra Bramley, Ken Raureti, Angela Wharekura, Les Stowell and Tina Ngatai.

Rerewhakaaitu, Rotorua

Ko Ruawahia te maunga
Ko Onuku kei te putake

Ko Rotomahana te moana
Ko Rangiaohia te whare tupuna
Ko Ngati Rangitihi te iwi
Ko Te Arawa te waka
Ko Mokonuiarangi te tangata

In 1882 the land now known as the Onuku Māori Lands Trust was partitioned and handed back to Ngati Rangitihi. The Mount Tarawera eruption occurred on the 10th June 1886, wiping out the Rangitihi Pa located at Moura on the shores of Tarawera, and the world famous Pink and White Terraces on the shores of Rotomahana. The surrounding land, including that of Onuku, was covered with Rotomahana mud and portions of Tarawera ash and gravel. These soils make up the base of the Onuku Farms today. The estate stretches from Mount Tarawera in the north to Timberlands boundary in the south across State Highway 38.

From 1963 the land was developed and managed by the Department of Lands and Survey and handed back to Ngati Rangitihi in 1982 when the Onuku Māori Lands Trust was formed. It had been run as one big drystock farming operation, but one of the goals of the Trust was to diversify and dairy was a good choice. Today the Trust has developed to consist of four dairy farms – three bovine and one ovine, a drystock farm, forestry, natural reserves and a manuka plantation. Onuku has also developed outside the farm gates, starting an export honey business: Onuku Honey.

One of the strategic goals of Onuku has always been to acquire land on its boundaries and in 2004 the Trust acquired a farm in Northern Boundary Road. Onuku is proud that this farm won the 2018 Ahuwhenua Trophy award for Dairy.

The farm has a strong environmental focus, with Onuku being part of Project Rerewhakaaitu, a voluntary local farming initiative to help protect local waterways and lakes. Management focus on reduction in N and P loss and the highest possible animal welfare standards. The Trust is currently part of a Jobs for Nature three-year project to restore the wetland area and carry out more planting and pest control.

The more recent strategy for Onuku is the move from sharemilking to herd ownership and the Trust now owns herds on all its bovine dairy farms. It has also been a leader in the sheep dairy industry and is mentoring other Māori farms looking to enter this industry.

Another strategy is for Onuku owners to be employed on farm and the Trust endeavours to implement this whenever possible.

The Onuku board is actively involved with the various areas of its business, particularly on farm where they visit regularly.

Key Contact: Angela Wharekura, 027 483 0350, angela.wharekura@onukumaorilands.co.nz

Media can contact Peter Burke: 021 224 2183 / peterb@actrix.co.nz. Photographs are free for use in relation to the competition. Visit www.bit.ly/ahuwhenuatrophy or contact John Cowpland, Alphapix: 027 253 3464 / info@alphapix.co.nz.

Our thanks to our valued Ahuwhenua Trophy sponsors:

Te Puni Kōkiri, the Ministry for Primary Industries, Te Tumu Paeroa, BNZ, NZ Mãori Tourism, B+LNZ, AgResearch, Ballance Agri-Nutrients, PGG Wrightson, AFFCO, BDO, Allflex, Massey University, FMG, Kono Wines and FARMAX.

A big thanks also to sponsors of the Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award: Te Puni Kōkiri, Primary ITO, Te Tumu Paeroa, B+LNZ and Allflex.

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