Wikitoria Wright, age 90, has finally been recognised for her work breaking in a farm on the Okahukura Peninsula.
Taporapora’s Wikitoria Wright has been awarded the Awhuwhenua Trophy for farming excellence – 56 years after she deserved to win it.
In 1964, the trophy was presented to her husband Rawson ‘Ross’ Wright, but Wikitoria was overlooked.
“That was their policy. It was a man’s world back then,” Wikitoria says. “But Ross and I were a team, and we worked tirelessly together.”
Wikitoria recently attended a ceremony by Awhuwhenua where her farming accomplishments were recognised.
Sometime after the cup was originally presented to Ross, the couple formalised their partnership by putting Wikitoria’s name on the deed of the farm.
However, the solicitor wrote up the draft document and allocated Wikitoria just a one per cent stake.
“He tried to say that’s how it is, but I said he’d better make it 50/50 or I was out of there.”
The Wrights were originally from Auckland and married when Wikitoria was 20.
Ross entered the ballot for farm settlements for returned servicemen and was given the opportunity to settle in Taporapora, which he took to be closer to his home marae and iwi in Pouto.
The couple were among the first six settlers in Taporapora in 1954.
“It was pioneering days. There a was no power or telephone.”
When the Wrights arrived at the ‘new’ farmhouse that was waiting for them, it was in disrepair. Gorse blocked the front door and there was a seedling growing out of the toilet.
“We were given 75 heifers that had never seen humans before. They were really wild.”
The heifers had to have ropes put around their legs before they could be milked, and it would take Ross and Wikitoria hours to milk them by hand every morning and evening.
Eventually, they were able to get a diesel engine for their milking shed.
“We worked very hard to improve the farm, all the while caring for a newborn and two other children.”
The couple raised seven children altogether.
In 1964, 10 years after taking ownership, the farm was declared an award-winning property, said to well exceed the standard of all others entered that year.
Wikitoria and Ross’ son Earle Wright sharemilked on the farm from age 17, and eventually bought it in 1984. He continues to run it as a dairy farm to this day.
Wikitoria has since swapped farming life for living in the Nautilus apartments in Orewa, but she still stays involved in local issues in the rohe.
She is on the Council of Elders for Te Uri o Hau Settlement Trust and Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Whātua.
She also sits on the 28th Maori Battalion A-Company Trust Board, which has an academy for young boys. Next year’s student intake will be named Rawson Wright.
Ross Wright died in 1997.