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Protecting our precious places

4000th covenant registered

 Release date:  Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Margaret and Keith OrmsbyThe QEII National Trust celebrated the registration of its 4000th covenant today at an event hosted by former Board Director Bill Garland and his wife Sue on their farm at Kairangi in the Waikato.

The milestone covenant was established by Keith and Margaret Ormsby, the second to be registered by them on their Otorohanga dairy farm. 

Waikato is the birthplace of the National Trust and the location of the 4000th covenant is not far from the site of its first covenant, which was registered in 1979 by the National Trust’s key founder, Gordon Stephenson, and his wife Celia.

Chair James Guild says the National Trust is delighted to be celebrating the milestone achievement at the birthplace of the National Trust. 

‘This is where the movement to covenant bush and wetlands on farmland was spurred and where the country’s first covenanting network was established. 

‘Around 15% of all open space covenants are located in the Waikato. It is a privilege celebrate our 4000th registration with this dynamic covenanting community and some of the Trust’s earliest covenantors who are here with us today,’ he says. 

Guild says motivated landowners around the country are voluntarily covenanting land with the National Trust at a rate of two to three every week, and that it does not anticipate any drop in the demand.

‘At the moment the area protected by covenants is about the same size as Stewart Island/Rakiura at 180,000ha — something past and present covenantors can be very proud of, and an achievement that the rest of New Zealand needs to celebrate,’ he says.

Keith and Margaret Ormsby’s covenants protect around 15ha of forest remnants and critically underprotected wetland areas. 

They have planted around 27,000 natives and plan to plant thousands more to restore and enhance their covenants and other natural areas on the farm. They say their family has been a tremendous force in helping get the plantings done. ‘We couldn’t have done it without them.’

The Ormsbys were recognised with Ballance Farm Environment Awards last year (Donaghys Farm Stewardship Award and Waikato River Authority Catchment Improvement Award). They were commended for their ‘proactive water protection and good management of soils and pastures, obvious pride in environmentally sustainable dairy farming, impressive water test results, and as leaders in showing good results from changes made to farming systems to farm better with the environment’.

Gordon Stephenson made a presentation to the Ormsbys at the event, which was sponsored by the Living Water Programme — a partnership between Fonterra and the Department of Conservation (DOC) — in recognition of the protection initiatives carried out by the Ormsbys in their covenants and across their dairy farm.

Signed in 2013 the Living Water partnership is a 10 year, $20 million collaboration between Fonterra and the Department of Conservation that’s working to improve the water quality and biodiversity of five significant catchments throughout the country. 

The partnership is working with farmers, local community groups and iwi on a number of programmes including pest control, planting and research, to improve the health of the catchments. 

Living Water sees the Omsbys’ covenants as a good example of best land care practice and it hopes more farmers will follow their and other farmers lead in taking a pro-active approach to the environment.

National Trust covenants protect a range of values, such as the habitat for rare and vulnerable native plants and animals, heritage sites, visual or landscape features, and recreation opportunities. 

There are just over 580 registered covenants in the Waikato region, protecting more than 17,000ha of the region’s natural and cultural heritage on private land.


Prof. Bruce Clarkson - guest speaker at the event. Click photo for his speech.

Contacts/more information

Media liaison:

Anne McLean, QEII National Trust, Senior Communications Advisor — 022 678 3610

Nick Hirst DOC National Media Team (Living Water Programme media contact)  — 09 307 4866 / 027 704 7773 


QEII National Trust — Mike Jebson, CEO — 021 499 759

James Guild, Chairperson — 027 318 6500 (coverage on this number available from 26th)

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