Andy and Gemma Phillips of Motumatai


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2024 Greater Wellington Finalists: Andy and Gemma Phillips of Motumatai – Sheep and Beef

Under the guidance of Andy and Gemma Phillips, Motumatai has been developed to improve the balance between livestock production and caring for the environment.  
The Masterton sheep and beef farm has been in Gemma’s family since 1914 and the couple started farming it in 2009. After purchasing Motumatai in 2017, they have focused on both lifting livestock production and enhancing the property’s natural beauty.  
In addition to Motumatai, Gemma and Andy lease three other properties, bringing their total farming area to 1,365ha (1,185ha effective). The sheep and beef, breeding and finishing operation runs about 500 cattle and almost 6,500 sheep.  
Decision-making is guided by a vision to farm in a way that is both financially and environmentally sustainable. Soil and pastures are carefully managed, to ensure both animals and the land are well looked after. Pests and predators are actively controlled, while waterways are protected by significant fencing. 
There’s a strong focus on people and creating a culture that is both inclusive and supportive – with the couple mentoring new staff to help them work toward owning their own businesses. 
Andy and Gemma have planted trees across the property for many years and today it features significant areas of established native habitats. This work reflects Andy’s interest in enhancing the wider environment. He’s a member of the Wainuioru Community Rivercare Group which has planted 220,000 native trees, carries out regular water testing and has removed crack willow across 37ha. 
Teaming up with two other local families, the couple has established a commercial native plant nursery, with many of those trees being planted on Motumatai.  
Gemma and Andy are mindful of the ancestors who have farmed Motumatai before them, and they’re committed to leaving the land in an improved state for future generations to enjoy.

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