12 months ago we were approached by the Ahuwhenua Trophy Management Committee to create a replica of two trophies that were first presented by Lord Bledisloe, the Governor-General of New Zealand. The first trophy was presented in 1933 and the second in 1954 when the competition was separated into two categories: dairy farming and sheep and beef farming.
"The Ahuwhenua Trophy, Te Puni Kōkiri Excellence in Māori Farming Award acknowledges and celebrates business excellence in New Zealand's important pastoral sector. This competition is held annually, alternating each year between dairy and sheep & beef."
- Sourced from the Ahuwhenua Trophy Website
The trophies are magnificent works of art, crafted entirely in solid sterling silver. They have a significant amount of work in them, along with fabulous engraving which surrounds the outside bowl of the trophy. The design of the trophy, in particular the engraving, is a summary of the agricultural and farming elements of New Zealand.
While we've had experience in creating these types of products in the past, it was essential to collaborate with a larger international manufacturer to spin the sterling silver into the size required. We connected with Ottewill Silversmiths of Kent in the United Kingdom (U.K.), who have a very talented team of silversmiths behind them, to help with creating a replica of the trophies. It was particularly important that the international manufacturer chosen was based in the U.K. as this would be a tribute to the original trophy which was crafted there in the 1930s. Ottewill Silversmiths and The Village Goldsmith successfully combined to replicate the Ahuwhenua trophy, creating a third for the celebration of horticulture.
An additional set of skills became available by coordinating with Ottewill Silversmiths that, brought together with our own extensive background of knowledge and skill, enabled the creation of the trophy.
We still had to complete a tremendous amount of work back here in New Zealand as neither of the original trophies were to be transported to the U.K. - they needed to stay in New Zealand.
Our wonderful craftsman, Dan, was responsible for the phenomenal work to help bring this trophy to life. He started by making perfect wax copies of the handles and the incredibly detailed finial to ensure that Ottewill could spin the bowls and create the body of the trophy to the exact dimensions of the originals. All elements of the Ahuwhenua trophies are distinctly Māori, designed by Goldie the New Zealand artist renowned for his paintings of Maori leaders and their communities. It was crucial that we replicate and copy these elements identically.
We explored options of bringing the blank trophy back to New Zealand and doing the engraving ourselves in our Wellington workshop, however, we found that Ottewill’s engraver had substantial international experience and had completed incredible global trophies to an unbelievably high standard.
Dan went over the original engraving using special tracing paper so that the engraver in the U.K. had the perfect representation of the original trophies. He drew each fine detail line by line, including every microscopic impression which took many hours. The engraving was carefully traced onto the paper in a manner that could be transferred back to the U.K. so the engraver at Ottewill could follow these details extremely closely and ensure the new trophy’s engraving was a perfect replica.
The final product is a staggering piece of art that has an immense amount of energy and passion put into it. There was an immeasurable amount of careful thought and craftsmanship brought into this creative process and it is safe to say it shows. When you see the new trophy alongside the original two from the 1930s, it’s impossible to tell that they weren’t made at the same time, the only giveaway is the fact that the new trophy is so much brighter and shiny in comparison. The quality of work is from another time, and there wouldn’t have been anyone else in New Zealand that has the skillset of Dan to work the genius he did.
The new horticulture trophy, named Haumiatiketike by the Hon Nanaia Mahuta, has its own special character and uniqueness which is a direct result of the amount of work put into it by everyone involved. The new base created specifically for the horticulture trophy was carved by the master carver Clive Fugill at Te Puia the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute in Rotorua and the kowhaiwhai represent the elements of the environment, nature and sustenance from Papatuanuku as our primal provider. Haumiatiketike already has its own spirit and life force, and it’s going to go on to have such a special place within horticulture, most particularly for the Māori community of Aotearoa.