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No. 35 (June 1961)
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View of Mrs Stephens' farm at Rangiahua. John Ashton, Photo


The annual competition for the Ahuwhenua (son-of-the-soil) Trophy was instituted by the former Governor-General of New Zealand, the late Viscount Bledisloe. in 1932, to commemorate his visit to lands in course of development by Maori settlers under various Maori Land Development Schemes under the control of the Department of Maori Affairs. His Excellency donated a silver cup and provided an endowment fund for annual prizes. The first competition was held in 1932, the second in 1936; the trophy was destroyed by fire in 1937 and there was no competition; Lord Bledisloe, by then back in England, donated another trophy, and since then it has been competed for every year and rouses a lively interest throughout the country.

From 1954 onwards, there have been two sections in the competition, Sheep and Cattle, and Dairy. In 1954, the Trophy for the Dairy Section was won by Mrs Mihi Stephens of Rangiahua, and in 1960, Mrs Stephens won it again. Mrs Stephens owns the property jointly with her sister, Mrs Harata Tipene (Stephens). Mrs Stephens and her husband are farming a property of 89 acres which is now in a highly productive state. When taken over about 30 years ago, the property was just swamp, cluttered up with puriri logs and stumps, and its present pleasing condition is the result of work over many years.

Mr J. R. Murray, Farm Advisory Officer to the Department of Agriculture, Hamilton, was the judge for 1960, and he wrote of Mrs Stephens' farm:

“Mrs Stephens is to be congratulated on winning this competition, as she has a very attractive property on which many difficulties have been experienced. The heavy soil type does not lend itself to good winter management and very often experiences flooding across the middle portion of the property. Production has been increased considerably over the last 20 years, although the 1956/7 season was a bad year and production dropped considerably. Mr and Mrs Stephens are good workers and are prominent leaders in district affairs.”

Te Ao Hou, accompanied by the Resident Officer, Kaikohe, Mr R. W. A. Yorke, called on Mrs Stephens recently to congratulate her on her success. It was a beautiful day in the district, and we perched on a knoll nearby and had a splendid view of the whole farm, sloping away from us to a river in the middle distance. It looked in the pink of condition. As we descended to the house. Mrs Stephens, unprepared for our visit, welcomed

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us with warmth, tinged with reproach. “Why didn't you let me know you were coming?” she asked. Mrs Stephens invited us in to her pleasant, open-style house, showed us the miniatures and certificates from her 1954 victory, asked her daughter to put on the kettle and settled down to talk to us.

Mrs Stephens and her sister are members of the Ngati Tura sub-tribe, affiliated to the Ngapuhi on her father's side. She is a member of the Tribal Committee and with her husband, gave the land for the marae close by, Tiki te Aroha, from which we had seen the panoramic view of her farm. She is a member of the Ratana Church, and gives much of her free time to it. The farm, she told us. has been in her family's hands for three generations, originally owned by eight members, now by her and her sister. Mrs Stephens is proud of the association of the Ahuwhenua Trophy with Lord Bledisloe, and felt that here was recognition of her people from overseas, which made her very happy.

We left after an excellent morning tea, prepared by her daughter, wishing her and her trim productive farm every success in the future.

Presentation of trophy reported on page 64


Three secondary school girls from the New Hebrides are attending the Turakina Maori Girls' College, 24 miles from Wanganui, on a scholarship scheme. The girls, Margaret Kalmar, Agnes Kaltong and Lucy Morris, are the first New Hebridean girls to have the opportunity of studying overseas. The scholarships were awarded by the British Administration in the New Hebrides for their work in the Onesua High School.


The appointment of Mr Michael Ropata of Wellington to be Public Relations Officer, New Plymouth, was announced recently. Thirty years old, Mr Ropata has been Public Relations Officer to the P. (New Zealand) Oil Co. Ltd. for about a year. Before that, he served ten years in the Department of Lands and Survey and was engaged in all phases of land development work. A married man with four children, Mr Ropata has spent most of his life in Wellington. He was born at Otaki. He is a member of the Jaycee organisation, the Academy of Fine Arts, and Heritage. He was well-known as a Rugby player and tennis player. Mr Ropata took up his duties last month.

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Mihi Stephens John Ashton, photo