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Māori students ready for best-practice farming


A pōwhiri marked the commencement of studies for the first intake of Whenua Kura students.

Whenua Kura is a partnership between Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Te Tapuae o Rehua, Ngāi Tahu Farming and Lincoln University which seeks to grow Māori leadership in agriculture. This iwi-led initiative includes studying toward Lincoln University qualifications specialising in land-based studies, work placements on Ngāi Tahu farms, as well as guidance and support through to employment.

The students were welcomed with a pōwhiri by Ngāi Tūāhuriri (Ngāi Tahu’s Eyrewell farming development is within this Rūnanga’s tribal area) at Mahaanui Tuarua marae in Tuahiwi, Canterbury. In attendance was Hon Steven Joyce (Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment) and representatives of the partnership. The 14 Māori students, ranging in age from 18 to 28 years, also received their full-fee scholarships at the event.

Lisa Tumahai, Deputy Kaiwhakahaere for Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, said the occasion marks the dawning of a new generation of agricultural students who will farm the land in a way that is best practice, upholds Ngāi Tahu values and sustains the environment for future generations.

In addressing the students Lisa said "Today is a new beginning for you, for your career and we believe [for] the future of farming in New Zealand. We need our people to be the best in cutting-edge farming practices as we want to be leaders in agriculture. Ngāi Tahu has set its sights high and we need our future Māori farm leaders to do the same."

Lincoln University Assistant Vice Chancellor (Communities) Professor Hirini Matunga said Whenua Kura is helping to link Ngāi Tahu people and Māori people to their land through the industry of dairy farming. "It’s quite a unique initiative and innovative in the way we are delivering the programme. It’s about dairy training in a Māori context and training up our people to be managers of the family farm."

The Whenua Kura programme is open to all Māori from ages 18 to 34. Visit for more information and to register an interest in the January 2015 programme.