Beagley Family awarded for over 100-year ‘love affair’ with Whariti Farm

Whariti Farm has recently been recognised in the 2023 Century Farm Awards, celebrating Beagley family’s over 100 years of dedicated stewardship.

Nestled at the southern end of the Ruahine Ranges in Southern Hawkes Bay, Whariti Farm stands as a testament to resilience, hardwork and a profound love for the land of the Beagley family.

The farm has recently been recognised in the 2023 Century Farm Awards, celebrating the family’s over 100 years of dedicated stewardship. In 2028, they will qualify for a sesqui-centennial award marking 150 years.

The story of Whariti Farm began in 1878 when William and Maria Beagley moved from the bustling streets of Hammersmith in the UK to the burgeoning city of Melbourne in 1853. By 1864, they had set their sights on Napier, accompanied by six of their eventual nine children.

The foundation of Whariti Farm was laid when William acquired his first parcel of property in July 1878. This land in Woodville was part of the Victoria Small Farm Association. Over the years, the Beagley family expanded their land holdings at Whariti, eventually acquiring a total of 456 hectares.

All bar one of William’s sons played a pivotal role in shaping the future of Whariti Farm. The farm remained in the family’s hands when his grandson – also called William – took over management. Ownership was passed to the next generation of Doug, Marie, Joy and Ken when William died.

Doug ended up being the sole manager of Whariti where he ran sheep and cattle. In addition, he had other smaller holdings in the valley. The sheep were Perendales known for their hardiness and easy-care lambing. They were the ideal breed for this hill country farm with its cold temperatures and high rainfall.

“Whariti Farm is a living tribute to our family’s enduring love affair with the area and a symbol of our commitment to preserving its beauty and bounty for generations to come.”

Doug’s dedication to the land was evident as he and his wife Shirley bought the property outright from his siblings in 1995, thereby continuing the legacy. Shirley also had strong ties to the district, having come from a local farming family.

Doug and Shirley’s children Allen, Julie, Vicki and Murray fondly remember mustering, docking and dagging up the back of Whariti with Doug and his brother Ken.

“A vivid memory was boiling the water for a cuppa in the thermette and preparing a fire of hot embers so that the lambs’ tails could be thrown on and cooked to perfection,” says Vicki who has a keen interest in family history and after many months of detailed and meticulous research published a book detailing the history of Whariti.

The family also maintains a strong commitment to conservation, showcased through possum trapping and the presence of two QE2 covenants, totalling 281 hectares, preserving the pristine virgin native bush for generations to come.

As well as this, in 2021, Waka Kotahi organised the planting of over 180,000 native trees as part of an offset to the wetlands that will be lost when the Te Ahu a Turanga highway is built. Allen, Julie, Vicki and Murray say these initiatives reflect the family’s deep respect for the land and their dedication to preserving its unique character.

Today Whariti is leased out to a neighbour but Doug and Shirley’s children continue to take a keen interest in it. “Whariti Farm is not just a piece of land; it is a living tribute to our family’s enduring love affair with the area and a symbol of our commitment to preserving its beauty and bounty for generations to come,” says Vicki.

The Century Farm Award is a recognition of a century of hard work, dedication and a deep-rooted passion for farming that continues to flourish today.”

© Waterford Press Ltd 2024 – Independent Print Media New Zealand

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