Tautane Station 2014

November 2014

Maori partnership and training opportunities at Tautane Station

Historic Tautane Station, now owned by Ngāti Kahungunu, is leased to Taratahi and used to train young people for a career in farming. Hayden Hape is the chairman of Ngāti Kahungunu Ki Tamaki Nui A Rua and in this role represents the Tararua district on the Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated board. He is also a director of the Ngāti Kahungunu Asset Holding Company, and is a treaty claims trustee and negotiator for land claims.

Ngāti Kahungunu bought Tautane from the Elworthy and Herrick families about 12 months ago, the first time the iwi has ventured away from fish into purchasing land. All the stock on farm was bought from the previous owners.

Tautane is an iconic farm, and very significant to Ngāti Kahungunu history. “When it came onto the market we thought if we were going to get into land, then Tautane should be the first property we purchased because of its relevance to our iwi,” Hayden says. “It was an emotional time negotiating. Ngāti Kere launched a waka in the 1980’s and gifted one of the carved paddles to the Herrick family and Mrs. Herrick brought the paddle along when we went to sign the agreement to buy the farm. She had realised when she found the paddle that the farm had to come back to us.”

“Buying Tautane was one of the best things the Asset Holding Company has ever done. The relationship we have been building with Taratahi has been amazing. We have an excellent partnership, and being able to have students go onto the property is great.”

“At the moment we are in the midst of getting a historical and waahi tapu assessment done of all the places around the farm and we are starting to organize scholarships.”

“We want to be seen giving opportunities to everybody. We are not looking for opportunities; we are going to be giving them. We want as many Maori people to be getting involved in the agricultural sector as possible and we want them to do that on our farm.”

Hayden has a background in the shearing and contracting industries and has a huge photo of his grandfather Woppi, a major shearing contractor, sitting on the Tautane Station porch with all his workers around him.

“It’s a big part of our family’s history, and all the Maori families that have worked there over the years. I have that bit of a connection to it as well, as my father and grandfather have worked out there.”

Farm manager Matt and wife Claire Smith have been on the farm since August 2013. The farm has 3 permanent staff in addition to Matt and Claire; a head shepherd, another shepherd who went through Taratahi, and a general hand. Claire works half time on the pastoral care side with the students.

Hayden says Matt and Claire Smith and Paul Crick (the sheep and beef manager for Taratahi) are fantastic to work with.  “At the moment we are doing maintenance on all the buildings and making them all liveable. We were lucky with the summer and got this work off to a good start.”

“Our relationship with Taratahi is still young, but there are a number of things we want to support such as the dog trials, and an annual fishing competition. And we also want to create scholarships. There’s also the possibility of doing some more paua reseeding along the coast. We have just finished reseeding 50,000 paua along the Waimarama, Pourerere and Porangahau coastlines, so we will probably do something here in the near future.”

The farm is 3375ha effective (3680ha total) carrying 30,000 stock units, of which 80% are sheep and 20% cattle.

The sheep are made up of 12,000 mixed age ewes, 5000 two-tooths and 5500 ewe hoggets. Lambing begins in mid-August for the mixed age ewes and 1 September for the two-tooths.

The high performing Romney ewes drive the farming system, and the objective is to kill 40% of the tradeable lambs at 17.2kg, and sell the rest store. About 24,000 lambs are expected this spring. Docking alone takes four weeks and students need to be exposed to a reasonable amount so as to gain competency.

There are 600 Angus cows, and all their progeny, save for about 200 replacements, are sold as weaners.

Farm manager Matt Smith says, “We are just trying to do the basics right and at the same time integrate new technology, for example iPads. They are a valuable teaching tool and we use them to film students and play it back to them,” says Matt.

Taratahi sheep and beef students studying for Level 3 Certificate of Agriculture come onto the farm in groups of seven for a fortnight at a time. This year 60 students are enrolled in this course, and they range from 16-19 years of age. About 30% of the students are female, 70% male, and 45% of the students come from an urban background. Over their 40-week course they come out to Tautane five times. They also spend time on other Taratahi farms at Masterton.

“We standardise everything, so things are done the same on each farm. For example drenching, vaccinating and crutching are all carried out exactly the same so the students get the same message. We integrate the students into whatever is happening on the farm. It’s real training on real farms. They play a key role in the team and do everything – vaccinating, fencing, crutching or killing dog tucker. Whatever happens on the day, they do.”

Each day, one student has to clean the quarters, and also prepare smoko, lunch and dinner.

“Basically while they are on the farm they are working, and we have unit standards we have to tick off. Our sheep and beef team assess each student about four times a year. We put a lot of emphasis on going above what the unit standard says, and we teach them as many skills as possible. Work ethic and attitude is the big one for us.”

“The special feature about Tautane is its size and scale. It’s an opportunity for the students to help crutch 2000 sheep in a day. We have to do big jobs, so we might be in the yards day in, day out for a week. The mobs are big at 4000 to 6000 ewes, so they learn about stock handling.”

Matt says the industry needs about 1000 new workers every year.