The Farm that won
THE AHUWHENUA CUP
This year's competition for the Ahuwhenua Trophy was very keenly contested and it is evident that the competition is helping to improve the general standard of Maori farming.
The winner, Mr Rohe Takiari, is a member of the Ngati te Wehi sub-tribe of the Waikato. His farm is situated at Rakaunui on the south side of the Kawhia harbour. It is an isolated district with substandard road access, no electric power, and mail deliveries only twice a week. The Post Office and store are 8 miles distant and the nearest centre of social activities, dances or pictures, is at Oparau township, 15 miles away.
Six years ago Mr Takiari's mother gifted him 26 acres. About the same time he secured the freehold of a further 75 acres and a leasehold of 223 acres. The total area was undeveloped easy hill country, covered mainly with manuka, fern and ragwort-infested clearings. At this stage the property came under departmental control and an immediate start was made on development.
His first season's work consisted of cultivating 66 acres for swedes and some 80 acres for grass. This was done by crushing and burning off manuka and fern, then cultivating a seed-bed with the use of giant and tandem discs, harrows and roller. The tractor driving was done by Mr Takiari himself, who at times worked up to 18 hours a day to get the job done. The tractor and implements used were hired out by the Department. Following the first year's activities an area of undeveloped country has been cultivated each year for swedes and sown in permanent grass in the autumn.
Boundary fences were erected and subdivisions completed as new areas were developed.
For three years Rohe lived in a ponga whare while development was pushed ahead. The buildings now consist of a modern homestead and his own designed 2-stand woolshed with a lean-to attached for housing implements.
When development commenced only 120 ewes were wintered on the property. This winter 860 ewes were mated to Southdown rams, and 97 Polled Angus cattle, including 63 breeding cows, have been carried. It is hoped in the future to increase the winter carrying capacity to 1000 ewes and 80 breeding cows together with replacement heifers.
Rohe buys his own replacement ewes in the paddock each year and also selects his own rams.
His lambing percentages have consistently averaged around 105 per cent. Approximately two-third of these are drafted fat off the ewes at weights averaging 38 pounds. The balance are shorn and sent away fat in the autumn. Last year the woolclip averaged 10 pounds per ewe. Lambing starts on the first of August and each year a record of deaths and the causes of them among ewes and lambs are correctly kept. Rohe, with the help of a neighbour, does his own shearing and crutching.
The Polled Angus herd is of good quality, the foundation having been laid some years ago by the purchase of 30 cows which had been cast for age. In the past, pedigree aged bulls have been purchased under schemes administered by the Maori Affairs Department. This year a good two-year-old bull has been secured from a prominent Te Kuiti stud. Steers are sold as yearlings. Replacement heifers are carefully selected and the culls sold. A number of aged cows are disposed of annually.
Besides growing a crop of swedes each year, approximately 10 acres of hay is stored and a two-acre stand of pampas grass has been established. This supplementary fodder ensures that all stock can be brought through the winter in good condition. Rohe's success can be attributed to hard work, skill as a stockman and his willingness to co-operate at all times with the field staff of the Maori Affairs Department. The farm generally presents a neat and tidy appearance. Fences and yards are in good order with all gates well hung. All tools and equipment are kept under cover when not in use. Pastures have been kept in good heart by an annual application of three hundred weight of fertilizer. Particular attention has been paid to pasture management by judicious grazing with sheep and cattle. His farm books and daily diary are perfectly kept and contain much useful information. This was substantiated by the judge awarding the maximum points for farm records. From the commencement of development Rohe has planned and successfully carried out a definite programme of work for each year. His thirst for farming knowledge is never satisfied and although he has gained this highest award it is not likely he will rest on his laurels but will strive to increase his production as much as possible. His programme of development is that generally used by the field supervisors in the Maniapoto district.