Ngāi Tahu partners with Lincoln University for Canterbury agricultural development

Ngāi Tahu Property, Lincoln University and Te Tapuae o Rehua have signed a memorandum of understanding, which marks the beginning of Whenua Kura, an initiative focussed on supporting more local Māori into agriculture.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere, Tā Mark Solomon congratulated Ngāi Tahu Property, Te Tapuae o Rehua and Lincoln University for formalising a commitment to get Māori to work on Ngāi Tahu developments.

“It has always been our wish to see our people up-skilled and employed by Ngāi Tahu. Ngāi Tahu Property, Te Tapuae o Rehua and Lincoln University are to be applauded for their vision and commitment to developing a rural Māori workforce.”

A mana whenua (local Ngāi Tahu) working group worked with Ngāi Tahu Property to identify ways that they could give effect to cultural values in their rural developments. Creating pathways for Ngāi Tahu to enter the rural workforce and work on Ngāi Tahu farms was identified as one of the key ways to uphold cultural values.

Ngai Tahu Property Chief Executive, Tony Sewell, says this partnership is important to Ngāi Tahu Property’s success in the dairy industry, which will be measured not only by economic outcomes, but also cultural and environmental outcomes.

“This partnership is pivotal to our success, which will be measured on our ability to farm in a way that respects and gives effect to Ngāi Tahu values. Our aspiration for Whenua Kura is to create a workforce who have an intimate understanding of Ngāi Tahu values and have the ability to uphold those values on our proposed dairy farms.

“With the mana whenua group we decided the best way to create this workforce was to combine the teaching of Lincoln University, as New Zealand’s specialist land-based university, with the values of Ngāi Tahu.”

Lincoln University Vice-Chancellor Dr Andrew West was pleased to have this opportunity to formalise the partnership with Ngāi Tahu.

“The values around stewardship of the land while undertaking primary production are key to the teaching at Lincoln University. Food production is going to be a major driver globally and the potential impact on our natural resources will only increase. Being able to apply stewardship values to efficient and effective agriculture is essential. These values are important for Ngāi Tahu and are fundamental to Lincoln University’s position as New Zealand’s specialist land-based university.”

This partnership is an expansion of the university’s relationship with Ngāi Tahu Property and represents growth for both the university and the agricultural sector in New Zealand.

The role of Tapuae o Rehua is to work with Ngāi Tahu Property and Lincoln University to operationalise the initiative, Whenua Kura.

Chief Executive of Te Tapuae o Rehua, Dr Catherine Savage, says Whenua Kura is about preparing the students with the right skills to work on Ngāi Tahu farms and become leaders in the rural sector.

“To begin, we will focus on Māori students currently studying at Lincoln and Māori already working in the rural sector. If Ngāi Tahu Property’s proposed developments go ahead we will look at creating specific Whenua Kura cohorts to meet workforce demands. It’s our intention that all students who are part of Whenua Kura will learn about Ngāi Tahu heritage, the importance of sustainable agricultural practices and mātauranga Māori (knowledge) in relation to the land.

“We are also exploring ways to create practical learning opportunities for Whenua Kura students. The aim of the initiative is to assist in the career and academic planning of Whenua Kura students so they aspire to become farm managers and leaders in rural business.”

If you or someone you know is interested in a career in agriculture please contact Kristy Bedi on [email protected] or call 0800 KAI TAHU.

Māori in Canterbury currently studying or working in the rural sector are also encouraged to contact Kristy.

Ngāi Tahu Property Chief Executive Tony Sewell, Lincoln University Vice-Chancellor Dr Andrew West and Chief Executive of Te Tapuae o Rehua, Dr Catherine Savage.