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Source: Auckland Council

The team behind the farming operation at Auckland Council’s Te Rau Pūriri Regional Park took out four awards at last night’s Balance Farm Environment Awards, run by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust.

A first-time entrant, the team of Dene Noonan, Garry Hewson and Laura Wallis took out the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award, the Auckland Council Water Quality Enhancement Award, Beef and Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award and the Synlait Climate Stewardship Award.

The judges commended the team’s significant achievements plus their clear strategy and capital commitment to ensure efforts are built on in the future while the management of the farm showed leadership in the areas of innovation and livestock health.

“It’s satisfying to see the team acknowledged for the work they’ve put into farming this park,” says Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore, himself a farmer.

“The challenge between farming profitability, minimal environmental impact and recreation is not an easy one and this team is managing to get this balance right”.

Auckland Council owns the 340ha property, one of 19 regional parks incorporating farming activities across the Auckland region, each linking to the other through their shared operations. The Kaipara Harbour property runs 650 ewes and 160 hereford cows.

Dene Noonan, Auckland Council’s Manager Farm Business & Operations says they entered the awards as a way of sourcing further guidance on sustainably improving the park’s physical and financial performance.

“Stock health is a high priority; our pastures have been significantly improved over the past couple of years by the introduction of a beef breeding herd. 

“There is also a strong environmental and social focus in what we do,” adds Dene.

A concept plan is currently being developed for the park. It will include large areas of open space including the creation of green corridors of native bush to add to riparian plantings already in place.

The judges acknowledged the team’s efforts to protect the environment and geological and cultural sites on the park. Recently, funding has been secured for the retirement of a large wetland on the property that will boost biodiversity and filter water entering Kaipara Harbour.

Mathew and Sarah Bolton were named the 2020 Regional Supreme Winners. Over the past six years, the Boltons have established Oete Goat Farm – an exemplar operation that combines profitability with a broadly sustainable approach.