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Local farmers in the spotlight

“The Kaharau Angus bull sale complex is theatre and efficiency, all in one,” writes Tim Fulton in one of three chapters about farmers from this region in his book, Kiwi Farmers' Guide to Life: Rural Tales from the Heartland.

In the book, Fulton tells the stories of New Zealand farmers and their families and traces the journeys that brought them to their particular piece of New Zealand. The book explores why farmers do what they do, rather than how.

Along with capturing the successes, challenges and love of rural life, Fulton canvasses racial discrimination, waterway pollution, sheep farming philosophy and parasite control technology.

The chapter, “A new era to treasure”, focuses on Penny and Pete Hoogerbrug who run Kaharau Angus stud at Rimunui Station, and outlines their experience in cattle breeding and sales.

“Penny says their objective is to breed fertile cattle that are phenotypically and genetically balanced with strong heads, jaws and bones.”

The chapter also touches on the farm-stay accommodation they run “to be able to share our beautiful corner of New Zealand with others who love the outdoors . . .”

Fulton's engaging, informative writing style comes with splashes of colour to present personable stories of the farmers' history, environment, experience, challenges, lifestyle and dreams. In his opening lines to the chapter, “Newmans plant seeds of success”, the author evokes a sense of history overlapped with the present.

“Across the road from Tom and Amanda Newman's farm there's a ghostly relic of an agribusiness venture from another age.”

This is the ruins of the Waipaoa freezing works, which was abandoned within a generation.

Tom, the third generation of Newmans to farm the land since his grandfather, “sometimes ponders what may have been for the multi-storeyed concrete hulk, but when it comes to his own business, he has few regrets. Bred from a family of entrepreneurs, his attitude is more ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained'.”

Whanau-shareholder business Whangara Farms is at the centre of the chapter “Combining for powerful Whangara future” which focuses on the business's leadership in economic, environmental and ethical sustainability.

Whangara Farms' main focus is the health of the land and people, says chairwoman Ingrid Collins.

“Whakapapa will be the reason Whangara Farms endures centuries into the future. The land created our people. Our people cultivated our land. Our people return to the land. Our land turns over and provides a fresh bounty for our people.”

Among challenges Ingrid faces is balancing cultural imperatives with running the Whangara Farms business.

Ahuwhenua Maori Excellence in Farming award winner Richard Scholefield, general manager of Whangara Farms, recently bought Pa Nui Station near Mahia, and also features in this account and talks about operations and initiatives under the Land Environment Plan (LEP) that guides every farm decision-making for Whangara Farms' natural resources.

DOWN ON THE FARM: Farmers in this region feature in three chapters in Tim Fulton's book, Kiwi Farmers' Guide to Life: Rural Tales from the Heartland, which is available now. Picture supplied