15 February 2019
Founded in 1959, when several whānau amalgamated land and leased it out, Ōtakanini Tōpū Inc has a rich cultural history. Over time, it has matured into a successful, multi-faceted operation, which is today owned by multiple stakeholders with manager Ray Monk at the helm.
The business mitigates risk by having mixed enterprises – sheep, beef and forestry - and of the total 2860 hectares, 1660ha is grazed. The farm has a good mix of sheep - Romney composite, and cattle - mainly Angus, running approximately 6550 ewes and 1800 to 2000 ewe hogget replacements.
The backbone of the business is its strong cultural values - it channels a powerful understanding of Māori culture, which aligns with local Iwi, and informs a policy to firstly employ whānau.
From a financial point of view, the business has hit its stride and the judges were impressed by Ray’s strong understanding of its financial position. They also noted his innovative approach to increasing profit through creating new opportunities such as ongoing subdivision, breeding, pasture renewal and increased water reticulation.
Ōtakanini Tōpū Inc’s fundamental appreciation of the environment is equally strong with several initiatives in place. Current subdivision of paddocks matches stock class to land class and suitability. The retirement of wetland areas, with the introduction of locally sourced native plants, demonstrates sustainable land use.
Utilising an established and diverse advisory group, to review and plan, Ōtakanini Tōpū Inc undoubtedly has an even brighter future on the horizon.
Of entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, Ray comments on behalf of Ōtakanini Tōpū Inc, “We see the awards as a way to help us understand the wider Auckland farming environment that we are part of and our management and board support our involvement. Profitability is important, but it is not our priority. Our people, our culture and our land are - we see the knowledge we will get through the awards as a way to support these aspects.”
Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award
Hill Laboratories Agri-Science Award