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Manager has three goals on radar for station

Kim Stewart Nov 11
Manager has three goals on radar for station
PHOTOS: Te Pa Station manager Hamish Alexander (left) with staff members. The 4200ha station lambs 17,500 ewes and calves 1050 cattle. About 70% of all sheep and cattle progeny are finished on farm, with the remaining stock finished at AWHI’s neighbouring Ohotu finishing farm.

Atihau Whanganui (AWHI) sheep and beef unit Te Pa Station is in the good hands of third generation farmer Hamish Alexander, who has three main goals to achieve in the farm manager role he took over in early 2018.

He wants to leave a legacy of clean and healthy land for the next generation, maximise returns to the AWHI whanau by optimising production, and pass on his knowledge of farming to their young ones.

Hamish has the motivation and inspiration of a beautiful farm to help him achieve his first goal.

The 5700ha (4200ha effective) Te Pa Station provides a good balance of high hill country at one end, lower country with its own microclimate that comes away sooner at the other end, and lots of hidden flats, plateaus, and terraces in between.

“We run a terminal mob that lambs earlier so we lamb them on the earlier country,” Hamish says.

“Our main line is lambed a bit later on the hill country to coincide with the spring flush.”

Te Pa Station lambs 17,500 ewes and calves 1050 cattle.

About 70% of all sheep and cattle progeny are finished on farm, with the remaining stock finished at AWHI’s neighbouring Ohotu finishing farm.

Hamish’s goal of optimising production has been helped by the huge amount of re-fencing he and the team have done at Te Pa Station.

“A lot of the fences were pretty tired, actually prehistoric,” he says. “They were 80 years old and they weren’t effective. We would put stock in paddocks and they would end up five paddocks over.”

Hamish says he is now starting to see results from the new fences.

“For one, stock are staying where they are meant to be and the shepherds are happy. It is also giving us better scanning results, as the ewes aren’t escaping through the fence and missing the ram, and better control over our paddocks so we are getting better quality feed for flushing ewes.”

The achievement of his last goal is facilitated by the Awhiwhenua residential training programme, run by Atihau Whanganui and Land Based Training being located on Te Pa Station.

Hamish says every year, six cadets come on farm from January to December to work through the level three and four certificate in agriculture.

They are guided by a kaiawhi who coaches and mentors them in household tasks.

They study every Wednesday with a Land Based Training tutor at Nga Mokai Marae, and they complete practical training under Hamish and a practical tutor at Te Pa Station.

“They come to Te Pa pretty green, aged 16 or 17, so they cut their teeth here,” Hamish says.

“They learn all of the things required to become a successful shepherd from pup training, stock work in yards, shearing and crutching to tractor work and fencing.

Manager has three goals on radar for station

For their second year, they are placed on other stations individually.

At the end of their course, they are encouraged to apply for any jobs that come up at AWHI, and we continue the cycle.”

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