The Trust is delighted to announce the following 2019 regional winners.
Southland Predator Free Farm Award
Travis Leslie and Catriona Cunningham are Southland Regional Winners of a 2019 Predator Free Farm Award – and its an award their children can be proud of too. The whole family actively takes part in predator control on Kepler Farm, a 1640 hectare, Landcorp-owned property in the Te Anau District that has been managed by Travis and Catriona since 2012.
In the last two years, more than 10,000 trees, plants and shrubs have been planted in riparian zones and as shelter for stock. The judges were impressed by the farm’s extensive commitment to biodiversity and commented:
“The couple have a commitment to direct predator control through the installation of 60 DOC 200 stoat traps, which are actively monitored. Hunting is regularly conducted to control possums, rabbits and hares and good relationships with DOC, Fish and Game and the Waiau Trust are part of a cohesive approach to achieving the best environmental outcomes. Travis and Catriona are creating an ecosystem where native flora and fauna can thrive and supporting that with essential pest control for overall success.”
Greater Wellington Predator Free Farm Award
Kaiwhata Farm, on the Wairarapa Coast near Masterton is the Greater Wellington regional winner of a Predator Free Farm Award. Owners, Jan and Andy Tatham, are the fifth generation of Tathams on-farm with the original purchase of the farm in 1876. Farm management also includes Aaron Tomlin and his wife Nicola. The total property is 2240ha, with 1700ha effective, 90ha of pine trees and the rest in native bush.
Andy has been planting trees on the land all his farming life, going back to the 1980s and in 2012 he and Jan utilised the resources of Greater Wellington Regional Council to devise a Land Use Capability Plan for the farm to update where they were and what still needed to be done. The Land Use Capability Plan 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 are continuously improving biodiversity on the farm with large amounts of erodible land already retired and established in native flora.
Ballance Farm Environment Awards judges commented that simple, active, incentivised predator control is undertaken on Kaiwhata Farm.
“Staff are engaged and understand the long-term benefits, particularly with a large border to protect. There is a bounty tally board in the staff room with cats, stoats, weasels, ferrets and possums all having a large bounty. The Tathams are currently engaging the expertise of a local retired DOC employee to develop a pest control programme.”
Taranaki Predator Free Farm Award
Taranaki regional winners of a 2019 Predator Free Farm Award are John and Sheree Espin and their daughter Kelsey, who together run a 220 hectare dairy farm in the Midhurst District that has been in Sheree’s family since 1885.
The Espins elected to fence their waterways, even before regulation took effect. They did so to the highest standard, with plants that would not only survive but thrive. Two well-cared-for areas of natives are remnants of the original bush on-farm with a number of saplings taken to seed other areas of the farm.
Judges commented that there is longstanding commitment to pest control and that this pest control is well planned.
Sheree loves to spend her time enjoying the waterways and the entire family cares deeply about what is in the best interest of the farm and business, with the environment an integral part of this.
Waikato Predator Free Farm Award
Graeme and Karen Saunders and business partners Nathan and Vanessa McCluskie are the Waikato regional winners of the 2019 Predator Free Farm Awards. Together they run Kaiwhio Farms in the Te Awamutu District, consisting of 784 hectares dedicated to dairy support, sheep, beef and cropping.
Judges for the Ballance Farm Environment Awards commended the Saunders and McCluckies on their excellent understanding of predator management to achieve biodiversity outcomes at Kawhaio Farms.
“There are integrated systems in place for reducing predator populations on-farm and a ‘bounty’ is used to reward staff to achieve desired outcomes. Riparian management on the property is good with wide buffer zones fenced off with substantial fences. In many places these are planted with natives and exotic trees and shrubs and ponds and wetlands have been created, showing that the significance of wetlands is understood and appreciated.”
Northland Predator Free Farm Award
Waitangi sheep and beef property, Wairoa Station, also known as the Bayly Farm – owned by John, and Joss Bayly and their sons Philip, Tom and William – has won the Northland region Predator Free Farm Award for 2019.
The Baylys support the work of Iwi Kiwi in the Waitangi catchment, a North Island Brown Kiwi stronghold (with over 200 adult pairs) of very high cultural, historical and ecological value. Waitangi Iwi Kiwi have numerous sites on the farm with pest control targeting cats, mustelids, possums, rats and other pests. The Baylys supply toxin and access to trappers with the aim of reducing invasive predator numbers to zero by 2050.
The robust pest control programme has benefits for eliminating disease vectors in the farm operation, training and utilising local iwi trappers as well as enhancing the breeding opportunities for kiwi and other native species from surrounding pest control areas. Wetlands and some scrublands on the farm have also been fenced off for regeneration and native planting.
Auckland Predator Free Farm Award
Webber Family Farm, owned and operated by Ross and Eleanore Webber, is not only the Auckland regional winner of the 2019 Predator Free Farm Award, but also Regional Supreme Winner of the 2019 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.
Webber Family Farm overlooks the Kaipara Harbour, the receiving catchment for all the waterways on the farm. The Webbers have a strong passion for achieving a predator free farm with an ongoing commitment to predator management and recording across the property including for the two QEII covenants on the farm.
There is an intensive network of traps and bait stations throughout the property for possums and rats including mapping and recording where possums are being trapped to assist future planning efforts. Other environmental initiatives include protecting waterways and existing native bush blocks; conversion of pine blocks into native bush areas; enhancing natural native tree seed dispersal by birds through planting appropriate trees in specific places to encourage bird life; and continuing to eco-source plants suitable to a challenging natural environment.
Canterbury Predator Free Farm Award
Duncan and Tina Mackintosh of White Rock Mains, are the Canterbury regional winners of the Predator Free Farm Award and also the Regional Supreme Winner of the 2019 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards. They are the fourth generation to farm the sheep, beef and dairy support property.
Duncan and Tina have an active and regular possum control programme on an area of White Rock Mains with a lot of natural habitats and have caught 1700 possums in last 4 years. They recently established a 91 hectare QEII covenant in an area where rare plants have been identified.
The farm includes regenerating native beech forest which also protects the local stream. Tina and Duncan are re-establishing old ponds and frogs are returning. The couple are also proactive in linking schools and landowners to learn predator control, through holding a critter hunt on their property for local children.
East Coast Predator Free Farm Award
Nick and Nicky Dawson of Hawkes Bay share a genuine passion for the environment. The couple, who have a 186ha dairy farm, Glenelg, at Patoka are the East Coast regional winners of the Predator Free Farm Award and also took out the overall East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Award title.
“Nick and Nicky display a genuine passion and enthusiasm for their environment, industry and community; they are generous people, sharing their time and beautiful farm to the public,” the judges said. “Nick and Nicky exhibit a good sense of pride and respect for people, livestock and the environment.”
Predator control is an ongoing activity on the farm with biodiversity reaping the benefits. Water use in the shed is 40 per cent below the dairy industry average. Twenty per cent of the farm is fully retired from grazing and stock have been excluded from all waterways.
The farm regularly hosts visitors and school groups, including Fonterra Open Gate in 2017. Nick has recently finished a stint with Hawke’s Bay Federated Farmers. He is a member of the Hastings District Council’s Rural Community Board, chairman of Ospri Hawke’s Bay and on the Biodiversity Hawke’s Bay working committee. Nicky is a teacher in Hastings.
Horizons Predator Free Farm Award
Simon and Trudy Hales, of Kereru Farms are the fourth generation to farm the land – a 970ha sheep and beef farm near Weber. As well as regular goat, deer and pig culling carried out on-farm, the Hales go beyond the farm boundaries to control predators with consents from DOC and undertake possum population monitoring through trapping.
The Hales are equally concerned with improving their land with a vision to leave it in the best state possible and have retired or excluded the majority of the Akitio River from stock.
“Like anything, doing what’s right isn’t always what’s easy, particularly when it comes to making financial commitments,” the Hales say, “But we are willing to make those investments.”
The couple has also developed plans for a future programme of native planting to improve the farm’s aesthetics and to mitigate the effect of soil loss through erosion. Trudy propagates native seedlings with seeds sourced locally or on farm, which will be planted within riparian areas; allowing areas to revert to scrub for biodiversity value.
Simon and Trudy are the Horizons regional winners of our 2019 Predator Free Farm Award. They also took home the Regional Supreme title of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, along with several other awards and their farm was commended by the judges for its commitment to environmental sustainability.
Bay of Plenty Predator Free Farm Award
Sandy and Franz Imlig understand the importance of holding on to a longterm vision and working towards achieving it. Success doesn’t happen overnight and that applies both to developing an orchard and to creating a predator free environment.
The Bay of Plenty couple first started working their bare 12.5 hectare block on the Kaimai foothills in 1998 while working in Galatea.
“We did electrical contracting during the week and came here every second weekend for seventeen years”.
They finally moved onto their avocado orchard seven years ago and sustainable horticultural processes along with weed and pest control are a key part of their orchard management. They poisoned self-seeded pines in a bush protection area and now see the bush regenerating. Native seedlings are being planted out in autumn.
“We back onto the Omanawa Gorge and plant natives along the edge to encourage birdlife. We now see a lot more kereru, bellbirds and tui,” says Franz.
Sandy and Franz are the Bay of Plenty regional winners of our 2019 Predator Free Farm Award. They also took home the Hill Laboratories Agri-Science Award and the WaterForce Integrated Management Award, all part of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards.