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Agriculture from a Māori business perspective

Land use: grassland steady, forested area growing

For the year ending 30 June 2015, plantations of exotic forest rose. The forest plantation area was around 49 percent above the 2006–15 average (figure 25).

It is too early to say if 2015 is a one-off measure, but the trend of forest plantation is rising. By contrast area in grassland or bush and scrub remained fairly constant.

Figure 25
Graph, showing land use in Māori farming, June 2006 to 2015


Responding to a changing market: Price signals, drought and livestock numbers

The main livestock on Māori farms in 2015 were sheep – by a wide margin – then beef and dairy cattle, with deer a distant fourth.

Given that the area in grassland remained fairly constant from 2006 to 2015, we would expect any major increase in one type of livestock to be reflected in decreases elsewhere. Sheep numbers trended down, although there is an indication that they recovered in 2015, following cessation of drought in most regions and better export prices for wool for 2013–14. (The 2012–13 drought affected the entire North Island plus the west coast of the South Island.) This contrasted somewhat to the overall New Zealand farm pattern of decline in sheep numbers throughout the 2006 to 2015 period.

Beef cattle numbers trended down over the period, to 113,000 in June 2015. This is eight percent below the 2006–15 average and is roughly in line with the trend on all farms.

While the beef and veal export price index remained steady over the 2006 to 2013 period, the whole milk powder export price index grew strongly though with ups and downs. The beef and veal export price index rose to around 40 percent above its 2006 level between 2014 and 2015. It is too early to pick up any resulting change in beef cattle numbers.

Figure 26
Graph, showing beef cattle and milking herd on Māori farms, export prices and livestock number indexes

Dairy cattle numbers trended up over the period, with milking herd reaching around 73,000 in June 2015. This was 30 percent above the 2006–15 average. Much of this growth occurred on Waikato farms, probably in response to assured markets such as Miraka’s supply to Vietnam (Waikato Times, 2013). In 2015 Waikato had more than half of the milking herd on Māori farms.

The whole milk powder export price index leapt around 50 percent over the 2006 to 2008 period, then fluctuated before reaching a level around 80 percent higher in 2014 than its 2006 value. The 2015 level is around that of 2010. To put these dairy cattle stock levels in context, numbers on all New Zealand farms also trended up over the period but reduced three percent in 2015.

Figure 27
Graph, showing sheep and dairy milking herds on Māori farms, export price and livestock number indexes

The trend in total number of sheep on all Māori farms was down, though in 2015 total sheep at around 900,000 head was one percent above the average for 2006 to 2015 average. This rise against the trend, possibly in response to better wool prices, contrasts slightly with all New Zealand farms where sheep numbers still show a downward but possibly flattening trend. Sheep on Māori farms still outnumber all other livestock put together as they do on all farms.

Figure 28
Graph, showing sheep and lambs on Māori farms, 2006 to 2015

The strongest decline among major livestock herds was within the number of deer number. In 2006 the deer herd was about 64 percent the size of the dairy cattle milking herd. Deer numbers trended down consistently and fell to around 8,800 in June 2015, around 45 percent below the 2006–15 average.

Figure 29
Graph, showing dairy cattle, beef cattle and deer on Māori farms, 2006 to 2015

Responding to a changing market: Price signals and area planted in horticulture crops

In 2014 the main horticulture crops on Māori farms were wine grapes, kiwifruit, onions, squash, and avocados. Other than kiwifruit, the area planted in these crops is trending rapidly upward. Kiwifruit area may be declining or remaining flat, although with excellent prices available for gold varietals it may simply be too early to see changes in response.

Avocado area appears to dip from 2012 to 2014, in line with avocado area on all farms and most likely in response to drought (avocados are drought-resistant but require 580 litres of water per tree per year, on average). Kiwifruit and avocado are primarily grown in Bay of Plenty region while Hawke's Bay and Gisborne are the main regions for wine grapes; and Hawke’s Bay is the most significant region for the other crops.

Figure 30
Graph, showing area planted in horticulture crops on Māori farms, for top five crops

Figure 31 shows the change in area planted in crops on Māori farms and all New Zealand from their 2007–14 averages.

Figure 31
Graph, showing change in area planted in horticulture crops for Māori farms 

The largest areas of horticulture crops in Māori farms (and all New Zealand farms) in 2014 were for kiwifruit and wine grapes. The area planted in wine grapes grew rapidly from 2007 to 2014, to overtake kiwifruit (see figure 32).

Figure 32 
Graph, showing wine grapes and kiwifruit on Māori farms, area planted and price indexes

Onions and squash were the two main ground crops on Māori farms in 2014. The area planted in squash grew rapidly from 2007 to 2014.

Figure 33
Graph, showing onions and squash on Māori farms, area planted and export price indexes

How we identified and measured aspects of Māori agriculture

In Tatauranga Umanga Māori 2016: Statistics on Māori businesses we use the term ‘farm’ because our Agriculture Production Survey measures farming operations below the enterprise level. ‘Farm’ denotes one or more blocks of land, managed as a single operation, engaged in agricultural activity. Activities include livestock farming, horticulture, viticulture, nurseries, forestry, growing grain and seed crops, and land that could be used for these purposes.

We identified Māori farms by matching any Māori enterprise found from either the Business Register’s list of Māori authorities, the Business Operations Survey’s Māori business question, or through our partner Poutama Trust with our Agriculture Production Survey. The majority are Māori authorities and a small minority are from the other sources (see figure 34). In all cases results are unweighted survey results. This is a wider approach than the previously published agricultural production tables for Federation of Māori Authorities (Statistics NZ, 2012a).

Figure 34 shows the relationship between sources used for this chapter:

Figure 34 
Diagram, showing relationship between sources for the Agriculture section

We used the latest data we have for Māori businesses involved in agriculture. We matched our Business Register to the various sources, and extracted information on those businesses as they appear now. That means that changes occurring before the present reporting period are incorporated throughout.

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