Thinking big pays dividends for reunited whānau
When Doug Brooks pours milk into his morning cuppa he feels a sense of pride. That milk might just be from the dairy farm owned by his whānau.
Mr Brooks, along with Phillip Luscombe (Chairman) and Hinerangi Raumati, is a Director of Te Rua O Te Moko Limited, the company that manages a 189 hectare joint venture Taranaki dairy farm that was created in 2009 when five blocks of land were brought together to form an economic dairy farming unit.
The land in Normanby includes four Ahu Whenua Trust Māori land blocks; the Māori Trustee is the Responsible Trustee for three and Mr Brooks is one of five private trustees for the other. The fifth block is land-banked with the Office of Treaty Settlements and is being held pending the settlement of the Nga Ruahinerangi iwi treaty claim.
Mr Brooks says bringing the blocks together into one large farm marked the beginning of a new era for the 1,100 land owners.
“Te Rua O Te Moko is bringing our people back to their land. In the past there was little dialogue between the owners but this venture is bringing people together again and giving us an exciting vision for the future,” he says.
Māori Trustee’s Aotea and Te Waipounamu Region Land Development Consultant Anne-Marie Broughton worked on the plan to bring all the blocks together for the venture and says creating a large scale dairy farm made economic sense.
“On their own the blocks are too small to be farmed independently but collectively there is enough land to develop an economic dairy farming unit. It is a much more practical and efficient way to manage the land and it brings opportunity for greater profit margins and asset growth for the owners.”
“One of the blocks had all the necessary infrastructure including the milking shed, housing, administration block and farm sheds. This was the land banked block and securing the licence on it was crucial to the creation of Te Rua O Te Moko,” she says.
The plan was carefully considered before development started with a dairy consultant who tested different scenarios to see what could potentially work and exactly what was needed to build a successful business. A series of owner and trustee meetings were then held to present the idea and obtain support for the venture.
The Māori Trustee, on behalf three of the blocks, and Mr Brooks and fellow-trustees of the fourth block have entered into a joint venture agreement to farm all four blocks and the land-banked block as one economic unit. To facilitate this, Te Rua O Te Moko Ltd, a company owned by all four joint venture partners was incorporated to run the day-to-day management and operation of the farm in conjunction with the farm consultant.
Te Rua O Te Moko Ltd has a three year 50:50 sharemilking agreement with the dairy farmer, who contributes all stock, equipment and labour. Each joint venture partner contributes their land to the venture through long term licences with Te Rua O Te Moko Ltd while the land-banked block is being currently leased by Te Rua o Te Moko Ltd.
The sharemilker meets regularly with the Māori Trustee who provides administration and other services to Te Rua O Te Moko Ltd and also meets monthly with the farm consultant to discuss and monitor plans and budgets.
Ms Broughton says the owners’ aim is to run the farm themselves in the future.
Mr Brooks says the Māori Trustee team worked hard to set up the venture. “We couldn’t have done it without them because we didn’t have a project leader, the experience, resources or connections with the large owner group. The Māori Trustee team worked with us and listened to us and they’ve put in an enormous amount of work. The Māori Trustee is as much a part of the farm as we are.”
“We’re planning to set up a training programme that will lead to strong owner governance and management of the farm. We’re also starting school visits so our tamariki/mokopuna can learn about their land and we are working to identify our wahi tapu,” he says.
“We are very proud of what we are achieving together. It gives us a real thrill to know the milk our moko are drinking could have come from Te Rua O Te Moko. The future is looking good, and we’re thinking and planning for the very very long term. We’ve even bought our first 50 calves to start building our own dairy herd” says Mr Brooks.
Chairman of Directors of Te Rua o Te Moko Ltd, Philip Luscombe, says “the dairy industry has a bright future and Te Rua o Te Moko is well positioned to build wealth and deliver value benefits to the beneficial owners of Te Rua o Te Moko for current and future generations.”
Te Rua O Te Moko up close
- 189 ha in Normanby, Taranaki
- 1,100 owners represented by private trustees and the Māori Trustee
- Farmed under a 50:50 sharemilking contract – commenced 01 June 2009
- 420 cows milked year 1; 470 in year 2
- Owners’ next goal is to acquire own stock and work the farm.