14 April 2020
2020 finalists: Auckland Council’s Garry Hewson, Laura Wallis & Dene Noonan of Te Rau Puriri - Sheep & beef.
The people behind farming this beautiful Auckland regional park are aspiring to balance profitability with minimal environmental impact. A concept plan is currently being created for this largely undeveloped regional park, with it likely to include large areas of open space that are maintained through livestock grazing.
Te Rau Puriri was entered into the Ballance Farm Environment Awards as a way of sourcing further guidance on sustainably improving its physical and financial performance.
Auckland Regional Council owns the 340ha property, one of 19 regional parks that incorporate farming activities. There is a strong environmental and social focus on the Kaipara Harbour property that runs 650 ewes and 160 Hereford cows. Stock health is a high priority and the team has worked with local vets to develop the animal health plan. Systems are being implemented to tackle a potential triple drench resistance problem.
A digital farm plan that electromagnetically maps out soil was praised by the judges for its innovation and leadership, while they were also impressed with excellent overall health and safety. A concept plan is currently being developed with input from stakeholders including the public. It includes the creation of green corridors of native bush that will wind their way to the ocean. This will add to riparian planting that’s already in place, with more planned for the near future.
The judges commended the team’s significant achievements plus their clear strategy and capital commitment to ensure efforts are built on in future. The achievements include the protection of the environment, and geological and cultural sites. The team has recently secured funding for the retirement of a large wetland on the property that will boost biodiversity and filter water entering Kaipara Harbour. Meanwhile, pastures have been significantly improved by introducing a beef breeding herd two years ago.