Top Sheep Breeding Operation Wins Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards


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Well-Known Wairarapa Hill-Country Sheep And Beef Farm Wairere Station Has Been Named Supreme Winner Of The 2012 Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Owned by the Derek Daniell Trust and situated north east of Masterton, the 1206ha property is home to an internationally recognised Romney sheep stud.

Ballance Farm Environment Award (BFEA) judges described Wairere as “a sustainable, innovative and financially-sound farming operation”.

“Strong consideration has always been given to conservation practices alongside the ability to be a leading entrepreneur of sheep genetics in New Zealand.”

Wairere’s win was announced at a BFEA ceremony on April 26. The station also collected the Beef+Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award.

Derek and Chris Daniell run Wairere with the help of around eight full-time employees, including manager Simon Buckley who oversees the station’s day-to-day operations.

Wairere was purchased by Derek’s grandfather in 1913 and Derek took charge of the property in 1984 after his father John died in an accident on the farm.

The mainly medium to steep property has an effective farming area of 1070ha and rises from 200 to 532m asl.

Stud breeding is the mainstay of the business and the Wairere brand enjoys considerable recognition in New Zealand and internationally.

Involving nine farms in the Wairarapa and Manawatu, the breeding operation sells over 2500 rams a year. These rams are selected according to strict criteria.

Judges described this as “a complex farming system requiring a relatively large staff and high standards of organisation and stockmanship”.

The stud operation is supported by commercial sheep and beef production.

Judges said Wairere was achieving exceptional revenue from multiple sources and the business has “a diverse income base with equity partnerships and off-farm investment”.

Judges also noted the station’s strong focus on biodiversity. A number of QEII covenants, currently totalling 60ha of bush, headlands and wetland, are in place and the farm boasts an increasing number of native birds and a resident native bat population.

Wairere has significant amenity plantings which increase the aesthetic value of the farm while also providing a habitat for native bird life.

Conservation woodlots have been strategically placed in areas prone to erosion and judges also noted the good use of pole planting for stabilising slopes.

Staff members are an integral part of the operation and the station has a good reputation for developing young shepherds. Judges also noted the “pivotal role” of long-term manager Simon Buckley who is responsible for all daily management and production activities.

Derek and Chris have three adult children – Jess, Josh and Marcus- and Derek has many off-farm responsibilities. A former Federated Farmers representative and district councillor, he is a director of Lean Meats Ltd and a member of the Wairarapa Romney Improvement Society and NZ Forest and Bird. The Nuffield Scholar is also an active participant in four farm discussion groups.

A BFEA field day will be held on Wairere Station on Wednesday, May 16.

Winners in the 2012 Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards were:

Supreme Award, Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award; Derek and Chris Daniell, Wairere Station, Masterton.

Greater Wellington Regional Council Lifestyle Award; Peter and Bridget Evans, Awatiritiri, Carterton.

Hill Laboratories Harvest Award; Dorothy-Ann and Alan Bissett, Wee Red Barn, Masterton.

Ballance Agri-nutrients Nutrient Management Award, PGG Wrightson Land and Life Award; Guy and Andrea Didsbury, Pirinoa Station, Featherston.

Massey University Discovery Award; Tim and Belinda White, Upperwood, Masterton.

LIC Dairy Farm Award, WaterForce Integrated Management Award; Stewart and Alexandra Weatherstone, Rotopai, Featherston.

For more information on the 2012 Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact BFEA regional coordinator Angeline Colquhoun, phone (06) 378 8008/ 027 526 3513 or email 

For more information on the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact David Natzke, General Manager, New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, phone 07 834 0400, .

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