Tararua farming award winners hard work pays off

// Awards

Mathew and Marilyn Prior of Aorangi Farm in Makuri were crowned the 2024 Property Brokers Tararua Sheep & Beef Farm Business of the year as part of the Tararua Excellence in Farming Awards.

image of Mathew and Marilyn Prior of Aorangi Farm in Makuri and family

Their recent field day, held on 2 May 2024, welcomed around 130 farmers to celebrate their achievement. 

The Prior's sheep and beef station ‘Aorangi Farm’ spans 740 hectares (640 hectares effective) of mostly class6 and 7 hill country, with only 10 hectares of cultivatable land.  

As a self-built business, theirs is a story of hard work, perseverance and innovation that has resulted in a slightly less traditional farm system. A key element of their win is the driving success both Matthew and Marilyn have implemented through shared hard work and intelligent development decisions.  

“The competition was a great experience for us both. We were able to take a lot from the judges and some very constructive ideas were given. We think winning the competition will open opportunities for our future,” says Marilyn. 

The field day gave fellow farmers the opportunity to see the farm in action, exchange ideas, and celebrate the Prior's achievements. 

The Priors discussed how they have been working hard to build equity in their farming business. Through setting strict saving goals and sticking to them, they have paid off a large sum over the last 7 years.  

They shared their sheep policy, which is based around buying replacement ewes, mating all terminal and selling a mixture of store and fat lambs, this allows more ewes to be lambed and reduces workload. Rather than breeding replacements. 

Their cattle policy, made up of a mix of bulls, steers and heifers, is based around a trading margin of about 380 wearners-18-month cattle. Whereas the traditional approach on their class of land (steep hill country) would have been breeding replacement sheep and running cows. 

Gary Massicks from BakerAg, facilitated the event. He says, “it was a fantastic turnout, and farmers were really engaged throughout. Even the 15mm of overnight rain couldn’t dampen the day.” 

“It’s brilliant to see outside the box thinking when it comes to farm policy. The couple have proven that if you want something hard enough and set clear goals, you can achieve it.” 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) is a proud sponsor of the Tararua Excellence in Farming Awards. 

Angus Irvine, B+LNZ Eastern North Island Extension Manager, describes the Priors as a "fantastic example of a hard-working young couple leveraging all opportunities available with a strong focus on teamwork and intelligent financial decisions."  

Congratulations to the runners-up in this award. 

Learn more about the Prior's Aorangi Farm from the field day booklet (PDF, 25.2 MB).

About the Tararua Excellence in Farming Awards 

The Tararua Excellence in Farming Awards have been created to recognise, celebrate and inspire excellence in Tararua’s agricultural sector. 

The winners showcase people and businesses who work hard to make our region a great place to farm, work and live. 

View previous winners on the official website here


Mathew and Marilyn Prior of Aorangi Farm in Makuri with their children

image of 024 Property Brokers Tararua Sheep & Beef Farm Business of the year024 Property Brokers Tararua Sheep & Beef Farm Business of the year field day