Rupert Handyside of Matahiwi


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2022 Finalist : Rupert Handyside of Matahiwi – Lamb and Cattle finishing 

Matahiwi is a resilient and high-producing finishing farm, due largely to careful planning, respect for the environment, and an excellent understanding of water and soil.

The 600ha property has been in this family for 150 years and is currently under the charge of Rupert Handyside. His historical connection to Matahiwi means he’s highly aware of his obligations and responsibilities as a landowner and custodian of land.

The mainstay of the business is fattening lambs and cattle for finishing. Across an effective area of 570ha, 15,000 lambs and 800 R2 bulls are finished annually.

Rupert’s approach is guided by a philosophy of clean water in – clean water out. Water management includes a series of small dams that slow water flow and help remove sediment, while a large irrigation storage dam doubles as a lake for recreation.

Land use is carefully matched to soil type and the contour of land, influencing stock movements and the choice of plant species. Matahiwi has moved to a simplified allgrass system which has reduced inputs and energy requirements.

Rupert is sustainably growing the business through careful planning that includes using technology and investing wisely in capital projects. His organised approach extends to all aspects of the farming operation – for example biosecurity is tightly managed, with good protocols in place around animal movements.

There’s a strong focus on enhancing the property’s biodiversity, including the protection and under-planting of existing bush blocks and kanuka gullies, and ongoing riparian planting. This work is also beneficial in terms of stock shelter, erosion control and reducing the farm’s carbon footprint.  

Matahiwi is a property with family at its heart, although Rupert also stays well connected through community involvement, including being actively involved in the local catchment group. 

Rupert was the winner of Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award, Hill Laboratories Agri-Science Award, Massey University Innovation Award and WaterForce Wise with Water Award.

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