15 February 2019
Running a business as a family is a commendable achievement and no doubt comes with its own set of unique challenges and opportunities. When looking at the dynamic between farming partners, Jarred & Sarah Coogan and Bryan & Helen Hocken (Sarah’s parents), one could say they make it look easy.
One thing for certain is that every individual that makes up this impressive alliance is an outstanding ambassador for the industry in their own right. Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards judges certainly agree and named MataRata Downs the Regional Supreme Award Winner for 2019.
Of their win Jarred says on behalf of the family, “We were blown away. We are all immensely proud of this achievement. It is recognition of all the hard work that Sarah’s parents, Bryan and Helen, and her grandparents, have put into this piece of paradise. It also confirms that the work we have undertaken in the last four years is on the right track.”
The Coogans and Hockens own MataRata Downs - the Coogans have 70% of the shares and the Hockens have 30%. Together they operate a well-established sheep and beef farm with roots that date right back to 1946. The business has heritage flowing through its veins, but a contemporary heartbeat, thanks to the team’s forward-thinking approach to embracing and utilising technology.
The judges were impressed to see that underpinning the business, guiding best practice, is a robust business plan clearly detailing targets and aspirations, ranging from social and family, through to financial and environmental, with sustainability at the heart of everything.
The farm’s commitment to its environment is palpable. It has an existing QE2 bush, and with the benefit of Taranaki Regional Council and QE2 funding underway, another 2ha of bush has been fenced-off this summer with an extra 1ha of steeper land added to it.
MataRata Downs is well-fenced with a significant number of established trees planted across it to provide shelter to stock and secure at-risk areas. Impressive knowledge and passion for these plantings is displayed. Areas of the farm continue to be planted with popular poles.
The Coogans and Hockens elected to enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards as a way to benchmark their progress and celebrate the work that has been completed by previous generations.
Of their future Jarred says, “We are excited for the opportunities that have already come out of this experience; in terms of the people we have met and are yet to meet. Our focus for the next five years is focused on meeting production and profitability goals, as well as protecting more native remnants on our property. Our link with the urban communities will continue with our school visits and agri-tourism.
“We have been impressed with the fantastic support of the sponsors and would encourage anyone to enter.”
Massey University Innovation Award
Norwood Agri-Business Management Award
2019 Taranaki Regional Supreme Winner