One family, four farms and 12 years of commitment and hard graft

One family, four farms and 12 years of commitment and hard graft
Family affair: Nuku Hadfield ( second from right rear) with whanua members.

Nukuhia (Nuku)and Bart Hadfield run 14,200 stock units on their 1506 hectare farm Mangaroa Station in the Ruakituri Valley in Northern Hawke’s Bay and 52 hectares at Waituhi near Gisborne.
Their story to farm ownership started in Taihape when Bart purchased a farm on Kaweka Road.
To be able to support the farming business Bart basically was shearing full time and Nuku worked full time at the ANZ Bank.
Trying to keep their heads above water they went into partnerships with Justin and Diane Bell and had a stint at shearing contracting, something that the Bells continue to do today in Weber.
After completing docking at Nuku’s family farm in Whangamomona in 2000 the King siblings, Eugene, Ronald, Nukuhia and Marama along with their partners Bart, Rob and Pania decided to embark on a journey together, a journey to farm ownership, a farm for each sibling and their partners.
The idea came about because everybody was working in the shearing industry and the thought was that pooling resources and working together would help make the goal of farm ownership more achievable.
The combined whanau had to overcome many obstacles, the main one being not being able to find a trading bank that would back their idea.
“We found the property that would suit what we wanted to do which, was Mangaroa Station and also the neighbouring Ruakaka Station then we managed to get backing from Allied Farmers Finance and a lawyer’s firm.
“They were tough times, all shearing, fencing and stock work was done by the whanau, but we all knew we could do what we said and so that is what kept us on the straight and narrow,” Nuku says.
Those first couple of seasons were kind and they managed to get some runs on the board which in turn gave them leverage with the trading banks and after four years of being “unbankable” they were finally able to get finance from a trading bank.
“Because our risk profile had improved so did our interest rate which had a significant change to the amount of interest we had to pay, leaving more to reduce debt and make improvements.”

One family, four farms and 12 years of commitment and hard graft
PHOTOS: Bart with the New Zealand shearing team in France. Sheep mustered ready for shearing at Mangaroa. Nuku and Bart with children Ariana, Lee and Atawhai. Bart shearing and feeding out at Mangaroa.

Everyone committed everything they had to make this project work and after 12 years each whanau had achieved individual farm ownership.
“Though we run our own businesses now, we still use our combined whanau grouping to market our stock and for beneficial buying power.”
Making and sticking to some simple rules made this all possible as well as everyone keeping clearly focused on what the original goal was.
In 2008, after seven years, Bart and Nuku bought Mangaroa Station from the whanau group and have farmed it with their children Ariana, Lee and Atawhai ever since.
Bart and Nuku farm Mangaroa and Waituhi with three basic principles – continual production improvements, improving asset and debt reduction.
“Because we learnt to live on the smell of an oily rag when we first came to Mangaroa, we have been able to continue with careful expenditure. We are not scared to spend money but we definitely analyse what impacts that spend will have on our business.”
Three years ago Nuku says they decided that they needed to complement what they were doing at Mangaroa and so purchased 52 hectares on the Gisborne flats at Waituhi.
“This has enabled us to fatten all our own lambs this season and have had income coming in throughout the whole year.”
In October, once the last lot of lambs are gone, Waituhi is cropped in either squash or sweetcorn so over the summer months they don’t have to do anything down there.
“This suits as the workload at Mangaroa is at its busiest,” she says.
In March it is sown back into new grass and once established they start sending lambs from Mangaroa to Waituhi to fatten.
“Two years ago we completed the second stage of a major water scheme. This was another big spend but we now have 150 troughs feeding 2/3 of our paddocks on Mangaroa.”
At the time, Nuku says they wanted to make sure they had a safe water supply to stock during dry periods but the other positive is that has improved grazing of the paddocks as they have been able to have troughs high up as the springs are at 550m.
Shearing has always played a large role in Bart and Nuku’s lives and they and their whanau credit the values they all learnt from working in the industry to helping them get to where they are today.
Though Bart doesn’t shear as often as he used to, he still dedicates many hours of volunteering to the sport he loves.
Bart is a shearing judge, the examiner for the East Coast region and also a World Records Shearing Judge.
In May he was the convener to Lou Brown’s successful world record tally in Western Australia and in July was the New Zealand shearing judge at the World Championships held in LeDorat France.
He also has another World Record Shearing Tally to judge at in Te Kuiti on the December 23rd.
In 2013 and 2014, having won the Best Large Flock in the NZ Sheep Breeders’ Annual Ewe Hogget Competition, Bart and Nuku decided to enter the 2015 Ahuwhenua Maori Farmer of the Year competition for Sheep and Beef.
This was quite an undertaking as there is the first-round judging, then, if selected, second round judging and holding a field day, “then capped off with an awards ceremony that rivals any major event held in the country – we were lucky enough to win this award,” says Nuku.
“ It has had such a positive effect on us, our business, and our whanau, so much so that in 2017 my brother Ronald and his wife Justine were finalists and this year my older brother Eugene and his wife Pania also won this prestigious award.”
In August this year, Ahuwhenua Competition Chairperson Kingi Smiler stepped down from the role for the Sheep and Beef competition and Nuku has been appointed the new Chairperson for the next Sheep and Beef Competition that will be held in 2022.
“I am looking forward to the challenges that heading the Sheep and Beef Competition will have and I feel lucky that I will be able to learn from the Inaugural Horticulture Competition in 2020 and the Dairy Competition in 2021. I think the Ahuwhenua and other farming competitions give us all the opportunity to showcase the great things we have happening on our farms and in our industry and I would like to see this help to improve the urban rural divide.”
This article was brought to you in association with the following businesses…

Related Posts