Mangarara Station, Greg and Rachel Hart’s 610ha sheep and beef farm near Patangata in Central Hawke’s Bay, was the first recipient of a grant from the Air New Zealand Environment Trust.
This initiative helps communities with conservation projects and funds research into ways to enhance New Zealand's environment. When people book an Air New Zealand flight online, they are encouraged to donate to the Trust.
Much of Mangarara Station is steeper hill country, devoid of trees after more than 150 years of intensive farming.
On the flatter land, two remaining areas of native vegetation, a podocarp forest and a lake and wetland, have been protected with QEII covenants.
Above: Greg and Rachel Hart with Emma, George and Bill in front of Horseshoe Lake. Protected with a 35ha covenant in 2006, the lake has been a wildlife refuge since 1957 and is a prime habitat for water birds.
When Greg and Rachel took over the farm from Greg’s parents 13 years ago, they started thinking about the sustainability of farming practices.
They have a vision of the farm becoming a model of sustainable land management. Their objectives are to restore the ecosystems by planting native bush and to create a beautiful place people will want to visit to find out about farming life and restoring the environment.
Right: Protected with a 10ha QEII covenant in 2004, this stunning kahikatea, matai and totara forest on Mangarara Station contains the threatened heart-leaved kohuhu Pittosporum obcordatum (Nationally Vulnerable).
‘We were looking at alternatives for more sustainable methods and approached Air New Zealand,’ says Greg.
‘They provided a grant of around $450,000 over three years to plant 85,000 trees on the farm including in a 40ha gully we have retired.
Family, volunteers and contractors have planted and mulched 22,000 native plants this year including manuka, kanuka, hebes, cabbage trees, karamu and flaxes.
'These plants will provide shade and shelter for trees such as totara and kowhai that will be planted at a later stage.’
Above: In August 2009, volunteers from Napier placed mulch mats around recently planted native species.
Contractors and volunteers have placed 14,000 mats this year.
Greg has experimented with a number of different weed mats and mulches to help the plants thrive in the harsh conditions.
‘We have extremes of weather here with freezing temperatures in winter and drought conditions in summer,’ he explains.
‘It has been difficult to retain the plantings and we are now trialling mulch mats made from waste paper to control weeds and keep in moisture.
Above: Made from recycled waste paper, the EcoCover™ mulch mats are compostable and biodegradable.
Above: Alongside his grandmother, Barbara Bruce, four-year-old Bill Hart is already contributing to his family’s vision for Mangarara Station.
‘What we are doing here keeps me focused,' says Greg. 'It’s a challenge but the motivation is what we are going to leave for all of our children.
'A requirement of the grant is to protect the replanted block with a covenant for future generations along with the two QEII covenants on the farm.’
Above: Greg Hart by the kahikatea, matai and totara forest QEII covenant on Mangarara Station.
For more about the Air New Zealand Environment Trust visit www.airnzenvironmenttrust.org.nz
To find out about Greg and Rachel Hart’s vision for the future of Mangarara Farm visit www.thefamilyfarm.net.nz
Open SpaceTM Magazine No. 77, November 2009 © QEII National Trust