Extension Pilot Project - Awhina Group

In 2016 the Awhina Group was offered the opportunity for a subset of the group members to participate in the RMPP Pilot Farm Extension project. The RMPP group consists of six central north island Maori incorporation sheep and beef farms where stock numbers range from 9000 to 35,000 SU wintered. One of the challenges faced by Maori Trust farms is complex ownership and the resulting need for timely and useful information to be available to all levels of the organisation that can facilitate good decision making.

It was decided that the key focus for this group within RMPP would be to develop systems and tools by which farm staff can be better connected to their Boards (and vice versa) to enable more effective communication of key information to allow good operational understanding and decision making.

The intention was that this would be useful for not only Maori Trust farms,but also any farm business where decision making involves more than one person such as corporate or family owned farms.

Key areas the group are looking at are measurement and information protocols to develop a bench marking process of key seasonal indicators that will help inform decision making. The group activity started with a GAP analysis of their farm accounts which helped identify opportunities specific to each farm. Monthly on-farm workshops have commenced where all levels of personnel associated with the farms are working together to review the questions of the month with participants including farm workers, managers and partners, consultants and trustees and in some cases, farm shareholders. These are done under the guidance of a senior farm systems scientist. Connections and discussions across the levels of those involved with each property are developing as is a network across farms for farm staff.

Farms involved

Te Pa Station, Ruapehu District

Farm Type: Flat to steep hill country. 4021ha effective out of 6100ha
Stock Numbers: 20,000 ewes, 5,000 hoggets, 1100 in-calf cows and heifers, 1400 other cattle

Pukepoto Farm Trust, King Country

Farm Type: Hill country
Stock Numbers: 6200 ewes, 1400 hoggets, 400 in-calf beef cows and heifers, 100 r2 steers, 300 r1 steers and heifers

Wharenui Station, Bay of Plenty

Farm Type: 1088 effective ha, mixed cultivatable and steep hill
Stock Numbers: 4100 ewes, 1400 hoggets, 670 r2 bulls

Tarawera Station, Hawke's Bay

Farm Type: Medium to steep hill country, 2865ha effective
Stock Numbers: 16,000 breeding ewes, 4,500 ewe hoggets, 1,100 breeding cows, 600r1 and r2 heifers

Tautara Matawhaura Farm Trust, Bay of Plenty

Farm Type: Hill country, 1550ha effective
Stock Numbers: 4200 ewes, 950 hoggets, 100 beef cows, 900 y1 dairy heifers

Anonymous, Central Plateau

Farm Type: Flat to rolling, 2135ha effective
Stock Numbers: 7300 ewes, 2000 hoggets, 380 in-calf cows, 70 r2 heifers, 70 r1 heifers, 50 r1 steers

Case Study - Pukepoto Farm Trust - 2014 Ahuwhenua Awards Finalists

09/05/2017

Early in 2015 the Awhina Group was offered the opportunity for a subset of the group members to participate in the RMPP pilot farm extension project. The RMPP group consists of six central north island Maori incorporation sheep and beef farms where stock numbers range from 9000 to 35,000 su wintered.

The aim of the pilot farm extension project is to look at different approaches to extension and work out a system that would best support sheep and beef farmers to increase profitability. This has included 75 individual farmers nationwide alongside those members from the Awhina Group.

RMPP partner, Alliance Group have managed this group. The main objective has been to develop processes and tools by which farms can connect to their Boards to enable better dialogue, understanding and decision-making. Another key objective is group support to lift the performance of each member of the group.

Important components for the the group to look at has been the completion of a benchmarking process as well as looking at measurement and information protocols. All six farms have shared their results within the group which has been a chance to see where members rank in production and profitability. Workshops involving all levels associated with the farms have also occurred. These workshops were facilitated by a farm systems consultant. Connections and discussions across all levels of those involved with each property are developing as is a network across the farms for all staff.

One of the six farms involved in the group is Pukepoto Farm Trust which has recently been named one of the finalists in the 2017 Ahuwhenua Sheep & Beef Awards. The Ahuwhenua Maori Excellence in Farming Award acknowledges and celebrates business excellence in the pastoral sector. The competition is held annually, alternating each year between dairy and sheep & beef.

Pukepoto Farm Trust is a 1400ha property located at Ongarue, 30 minutes north of Taumaraunui. It winters 6000 Romney ewes and around 300 mainly Angus cattle. A field day which was held at Pukepoto on 4 May included presentations of the overall business and in the field discussions about current on-farm management.

Pukepoto Farm Board Chair, Aloma Shearer said "To be involved in the Ahuwhenua Trophy competition is an absolute honour, not only for us as Trustees but also for our whanau. It is the highest accolade you can receive as a Maori farming business and is recognition of the fact that we are achieving above average results for our farming business whilst taking care of our environment and social commitments."

The winner of the Ahuwhenua Awards will be announced at an event on 26 May in Whangarei.