New lease property proves a useful addition

New lease property proves a useful addition
PHOTOS: Waihi Pukawa Trust runs a highly successful mixed livestock operation encompassing 2750ha of effective land in prime pumice country on the south western shores of lake Taupo.

On the south-western shores of Lake Taupō, Waihi Pukawa Trust runs a highly successful mixed livestock operation encompassing 2750ha of effective land in prime pumice country. To this efficient finishing property, the Māori-owned trust has recently added another lease property of 2600ha effective at Tongariro near the Whakapapa ski resort.
“The Trust took over the new lease property at the start of July – it’s going to be a good store property that will complement what we have here,” says farm manager Colin Gates.
“It’s right under the ski field; the winters are long up there but it grows a lot of grass in summer (for store stock).”
The lease land arrangement has added four more staff to the Trust’s team that includes a deer manager, a sheep and beef manager and now a new manager for the lease block.
“I’m overseeing it all but we all work together pretty well,” explains Colin, “I’m coordinating development of the new land and the stock movements backwards and forwards.”
At the time of writing, there were approximately 8500 ewes, 190 cows and 4500 hinds on the Trust’s main farm near Turangi and another 4000 ewes, 780 cows and 2000 hinds on the lease block.Maori-owned, Waihi Pukawa Trust has a long and proud track record of farming in an environmentally sustainable way while striving to produce quality outcomes.
It has achieved recognition for its approach, being both a regional winner of Maori Farmer of the Year and a national finalist in that prestigious competition.
“Our focus on the environment is really nothing new: all our creeks have been fenced off for 40 years. Any wetland areas are fenced off too. Miti-gating run-off from paddocks is not a big problem for us either because of the type of soil we have here – predominantly pumice, so we don’t get a lot of mud.”
The operation is overwhelmingly fuelled by grass, with just a little maize brought in for the young deer.
“[But] that’s just used before they get weaned as an educational tool.”
Waihi Pukawa Trust is one of a small group of select suppliers to Taupo Beef and Lamb, which began exporting premium product to Japan in early 2018.
As well, the operation is a supplier to First Light, whose values around respect for animals and the environment, innovation, sustainability and integrity align with their own.
“Currently we are also investigating the potential of getting together five central North Island entities to explore new opportunities in the venison market.”
Traditionally, sheep has been the property’s main-stay but Colin observes that deer have certainly caught up in recent years with the primary income in that market generated from venison.
“We also added a velvet herd a couple of years ago and have a lot of young deer. Our income from velvet alone has increased more than eight-fold over the past three years.”
Colin reports back to the trust board every month, with the various farm managers in turn reporting back to him on a fortnightly or monthly basis.
Cash Manager software is used to track farm spending, with updates generated regularly.
“I do stock ‘reckies’ every month and keep the regional council informed of our stock numbers.”
An ongoing priority is infrastructure improvement, including fencing renewal and bringing old trough-based water systems up to date.
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