2022 Finalist - Wi Pere Trust

In the photo: L-R: Chris Torrie, Hector Pere, Trudy Meredith and Tim Rhodes.

Te Karaka, Gisborne

Created in 1899 by an Act of Parliament, the Wi Pere Trust was established by their tīpuna Wi Pere to protect the remaining lands of their whanau at a time when the whenua was heavily in debt, from being sold under mortgagee sale. It was a time of great turmoil regarding the retention of Māori land and throughout his lifetime and as a MP for Eastern Māori from 1884-1887 and 1894-1905, Wi Pere championed the retention of Māori land to be controlled and developed by Māori. Wi Pere was also responsible for forming the first Māori Incorporation, Mangatu Incorporation through the 1893 Mangatu Empowering Act.

Today, 123 years later, the Wi Pere Trust continues to thrive under the stewardship of his mokopuna, Alan Haronga (Chair), Kingi Smiler, Trudy Meredith, Hector Pere and Jason Lardelli. Their vision, which guides their strategic decisions is to nurture the Wi Pere legacy for current and future generations with the overarching philosophy of kaitiakitanga.

The Trust continues today as a statutory trust which was amended in 2017 to modernise the Trust constitution and to remove the power of the Minister for Māori Development to appoint Trustees. Trustees are now appointed by the 550 owners who represent a wider whanau base who whakapapa to Te Aitanga a Mahaki and Te Whanau a Kai.

Located in Gisborne, Wi Pere Farms consists of 6,770ha with 4,900 effective ha, which consist of two blocks, Otara at Whatatutu and Tangihanga at Waituhi. The land blocks carry 51,000 stock units comprising 32,400 sheep and 4600 cattle. The farm is managed by General Manager Tim Rhodes, with fifteen full-time staff. Wi Pere Farms are classified as North Island steep hard hill country.

The Trust have developed comprehensive Land Environment Plans to guide how to best utilise the land including the retirement of erosion prone land, fencing all waterways approximately 35 kilometres, riparian planting and improving water quality. Wi Pere produces approximately 1,100,000kg of meat and fibre annually and optimises product returns by selling via a Māori Collective Cluster, Awhina to the Alliance Group.

Community activities include supporting Te Rongopai Marae at Waituhi which is considered unique as one of the few painted meeting houses in Aotearoa.

The Chairman of the Trust has taken an active leadership role with the Tairawhiti Whenua Group representing approximately 42 land blocks covering 143,000ha of Māori land, who are engaging with local and central government on freshwater reforms and climate change.

All these activities are vital in achieving our long term sustainable, environmental, social and financial goals.

Key Contact: Tim Rhodes, 027 272 5421, tim@wipere.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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