Omapere Taraire E & Rangihamama X3A Ahu Whenua Trust
The farm run by the Trust is situated just 2km northwest of the Far North township of Kaikohe and is regarded by its shareholders as a taonga tukuiho, gifted to them over time by their ancestors.
Lloyd Brennan, Farm Manager and Raniera (Sonny) Tau, Trust Chair and shareholder
Up until the 1950s the Omapere land had separate titles occupied by individual/whānau owners who used the land for food gardens and small dairy units. The size of individual lots became uneconomic with some lots starting to show signs of neglect. Under the Māori Affairs Act 1953 these separate titles were amalgamated under one title known as Omapere Taraire E and Rangihamama X3A Ahu Whenua Trust (ORT). During this process the Crown acquired a substantial holding in the Omapere block. After the amalgamation, it was run as a sheep and beef unit under the management of the Department of Māori Affairs.
Under new leadership in 2007 there has been a determined effort by Trustees and shareholders to purchase this land back and run their own farming operation. ORT now owns about 80% of this land and there is an ongoing strategy to continue purchasing shares until it is fully owned by them.
Of the Trust’s 1,997ha total land area, 1,253ha is devoted to the sheep and beef operation, of which 902ha is effective. In the past the farm ran a combination of sheep and beef. The move away from sheep to beef has largely been driven by better returns for bull beef and poorer returns for wool, sheep and lamb.
The farm is mainly undulating country with some flats making it ideal as a finishing farm. The bulls are bought in as rising one year olds and then sold on as two year olds. The stock are only grass fed. A manager and three staff run the farm and they report to a special farm committee comprising a consultant, a shareholder and a Trustee chosen for their specialist farm knowledge.
The farm includes the only Māori owned lake in Aotearoa – Lake Omapere. This is considered a sacred site and a taonga in its own right. On the property also is Maunga Putahi, one of the pou of the house of Ngāpuhi. This maunga also holds the oldest Ngāpuhi burial caves where only Ngāpuhi chiefs were interred. Their protection is absolutely paramount. There are many sacred burial sites and these have all been fenced off and in some cases vested in Ngā Whenua Rāhui.
Care of the environment is key in the ORT strategy and they take this and reducing their environmental footprint very seriously.
ORT also maintain strong links with their shareholders by holding six monthly meetings, and a full AGM in October at which Governance reports on the quadruple bottom line of environmental, social, cultural and economic outcomes achieved. Approval is also sought for any major changes to farm policy.
ORT is a great example of whānau working collaboratively to gain the maximum return from their land but at the same time placing equal emphasis on preserving this taonga for future generations.
The contacts for the farm is:
Omapere Rangihamama Trust – Sonny Tau, 09 405 3577 or 027 530 9191 / email@example.com