Run by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, the awards champion sustainable farming and growing. The Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards were announced on 1 July.
Led by orchard manager Helen Scott, Whiritoa Orchards grows both conventional and organic gold kiwifruit while striving to improve the land for future generations. Since purchasing the property, Māori Investments Limited has extensively developed the orchards into healthy, well-performing businesses.
Establishing good drainage and restoring soil health across the orchards has paid off with a lift in production, so they’re harvesting an additional 10,000 trays of kiwifruit per hectare – up to a maximum of 21,000 trays.
Whiritoa Orchards is focused on carrying a sustainable, good-quality crop that cares for both land and plants. Employees are trained and empowered so their work becomes a career rather than simply a job. Fresh vegetables are grown for the whānau to help improve their personal health.
The judges were impressed with how traditional Māori knowledge provides a foundation to the team’s approach. They have dramatically improved production and quality, while retaining a strong focus on creating long-term career pathways.
“People are at the heart of this operation, with an holistic approach to sustainability that means profitability is not compromised. There’s meticulous attention to detail and careful thought on all management practices, with a generational lens.”
Whiritoa Orchards also won the Bayleys People in Primary Sector, Norwood Agri-Business Management and Zespri Kiwifruit Orchard awards.
A Field Day will be held at Whiritoa Orchards on 26 July.
New Zealand Landcare Trust Catchment Group Award
Conservation activities, supporting recreation and enhancing biodiversity has earned the Uretara Estuary Managers Inc the inaugural New Zealand Landcare Trust Catchment Group Award for the Bay of Plenty region.
Known as Project Parore, their work focuses on all nine stream catchments that enter the northern Tauranga Harbour. Their biggest achievements include implementing Catchment Management Plans and working to assess the health of the estuary and waterways. They have remediated fish passages, partnered with landowners to carry out extensive riparian planting, and helped develop wetlands.
The judges said they were an experienced team that is comfortable trying new approaches as they encourage land-use change and good management practices. They have an integrated, community-led approach to sustainable land use and environmental protection.
OTHER BAY OF PLENTY BALLANCE FARM ENVIRONMENT AWARD WINNERS 2022
- Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award: Dell, Ross and Roger Bawden, Oceanview Orchard Ltd
- Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award: John and Margaret Scrimgeour, Nikau Trust
- DairyNZ Sustainability and Stewardship Award: Steve and Paula Holdem and Jeff and Glenys Holdem, Holdem Farm
- Hill Laboratories Agri-Science Award: Dell, Ross and Roger Bawden, Oceanview Orchard Ltd
- Massey University Innovation Award: Steve and Paula Holdem and Jeff and Glenys Holdem, Holdem Farm
- WaterForce Wise with Water Award: Dell, Ross and Roger Bawden, Oceanview Orchard Ltd
- Bay Of Plenty Regional Council Farming for the Future Award: Winston Fleming, Winston Fleming Trust