Great Farming Stories

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Jan & Andy Tatham (owners) and Aaron & Nicola Tomlin - Kaiwhata Farm

15 February 2019

Jan & Andy Tatham (owners) and Aaron & Nicola Tomlin - Kaiwhata Farm

Kaiwhata Farm, on the Wairarapa Coast near Masterton, has a long farming history. Its owners, Jan and Andy Tatham, are the fifth generation of Tathams on-farm with the original purchase of the farm in 1876.

A dedicated team works hard behind the scenes and is made up of cropping and infrastructure manager Aaron Tomlin and his wife Nicola, who are also the beekeepers on the property via a joint venture with Andy and Jan. They are supported by stock manager Matt, a senior shepherd Hugh, and a junior shepherd Tamsin.

Jan and Andy began leasing the Kaiwhata block from the family trust in 1997, and in 2012, they had the chance to purchase the home block. The total property is 2240ha, with 1700ha effective, 90ha of pine trees and the rest in native bush. It runs 17,580 stock units consisting of 12,200 sheep and 5380 cattle. Included in these numbers is Andy’s 1000 stud ewes. He sells 200 rams and leases out 150 ram hoggets each year.

Two historic buildings on the farm have been newly renovated to accommodate paying guests that want a taste of country life.

The welfare of people, animals and environment are all important priorities in the eyes of the Tathams. They are dedicated to maintaining the health and wellbeing of the current staff that work on Kaiwhata, ensuring they provide a safe and aesthetically pleasing working environment. This involves investing in staff training so the team has ample opportunity to upskill, enabling them to follow their career paths.

In 2012, Andy and Jan utilised the resources of Greater Wellington Regional Council to devise a Land Use Capability Plan for the farm that looked in-depth at the soil types on the property and proposed plantings for the following 40 years to achieve a carbon positive state, minimise erosion, retire non-productive land, plant waterways and provide shade and shelter for stock. The Tathams work closely with their current GWRC Land Management Advisor to ensure goals are being achieved Kaiwhata is fortunate to have a reliable freshwater limestone spring. The location of the spring allows enough head to spread water across half the property allowing the farm to have reliable reticulated stock water.
Water is also stored in fenced-off dams for the remainder of the property, creating valuable habitats and superb water quality, and most of these areas have also been planted in native vegetation. The two main waterways on the farm have full stock exclusion.

The Tathams are continuously improving biodiversity on the farm with large amounts of erodible land already retired and established in native flora.
Jan Tatham says she and Andy were motivated to enter the Ballance Farm Environment Award to showcase a productive farm working hand-in-hand with a very in-depth environmental plan.

“Sometimes farmers and regional councils get a hard time from media and the public and we want to highlight that we feel very lucky to have our regional council working with us. This is a great relationship that hasn’t just happened over the last couple of years but started with Andy’s father and will be ongoing into the future.”  

Awards Won 2019

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award

Hill Laboratories Agri-Science Award

Predator Free Farm Award