A top Maori farming family credits “whanau pride” in their paying back $300,000 of a loan in just three years.
The RA & JG King partnership, near Eketahuna, is one of three sheep and beef finalists for the Maori Excellence in Farming Ahuwhenua competition.
The partnership including Ronald and his wife Justine (Buzz) King bought Puketawa Station in 2013. They had two children at home, and her father Ron Falconer, was also part of the farm and worked on it.
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Buzz’s sister, Veronica and her husband Warwick help as well as Ronald’s sister, Marama and her husband Rob also helped on the farm sometimes.
Judges said the Kings were hard working, and had showed they could live on little.
Buzz King said she welcomed the younger generation to the farm, and they had had four camps of 26 children each, on the property.
“We both have a passion to encourage teaching and welcome all young people to the farm”
She said some of them had gone on to think farming was “awesome” and had carried on with it.
“Don’t be scared to take young ones on the farm, they learn so much.”
She said people should always be open to new ideas and opportunities.
Buzz said she and Ronald could not have achieved the improvements to the farm, without the the help of whanau.
A field day was held at the property at Tiraumea about half way between Eketahuna and Pahiatua in northern Wairarapa.
About 70 people went, and the visit included a farm trip around the 1108 hectare hill country.
Judges said the couple continued to upgrade Puketawa Station and had a development plan that included spraying gorse, planting trees and retiring areas of land to prevent erosion.
They are also involved in riparian planting, and improving the farm and preserving the environment.
Buzz said they wanted to leave the land in better condition than it had been.
The said when they bought the farm it was in a tired condition and since then they have worked hard to improve pastures, infrastructure and animal genetics.
“We are passionate about stock and improving genetics on the farm.”
Buzz was also a keen horsewoman, and Ronald coached rugby, judged shearing and was part of the volunteer fire brigade.
She said they were surrounded with good people and they couldn’t have done it without them.
“Whanau is the most important thing. Some people are of the same blood, but anyone who comes here and wants to part of the whanau, is welcomed. Whether they are same blood as the family, or not, they are part of the whanau.”
First time judge Chris Garland from Masterton-based BakerAg, said judging farms for Ahuwhenua had different criteria to judging other farms.
He said more emphasis was put on governance and strategy, as well as community and social impact- tikanga Maori.
Financial and benchmarking was also an important criteria.
The Ahuwhenua competition recognises excellence in Maori farming and the contribution the sector makes to the economy.
The winners will be announced in Whangarei on May 26.