Ngai Tahu: Forestland conversions continue

Wednesday 31 Oct 2018

Ngai Tahu Farming will milk 14,000 dairy cows just north of Christchurch, once the remainder of Eyrewell Forest is felled.

However, the South Island iwi-owned business has abandoned plans to convert some of Balmoral Forest in North Canterbury to dairy, after failing to get the required nutrient and water consents, instead focusing on beef grazing and possibly orchards.

Ngai Tahu Farming (NTF) manages more than 100,000 hectares of farm and forestry land in the South Island. Its asset value had lifted from $110 million in 2010 to $440m now as properties were developed.

Chief executive Andrew Priest said its 6,757 ha Te Whenua Hou dairy development, north of the Waimakariri River, would continue as trees were cleared from Eyrewell Forest.

It had eight dairy farms, six dairy support and six grazing, but planned to expand this to 14 dairy farms and six dairy support, carrying a total of 14,000 cows.

Its 9,400 ha Balmoral Forest, near Culverden, was being converted to beef grazing and possibly horticulture, in a longer term development. It had 1,500 ha under centre pivot irrigation and had consents for enough water to extend this to 3,000 ha.

The development was new, with a pilot farm started in 2016 and beef farms in 2017. In a trial orchard started this year, it was testing the suitability of four apple varieties, apricots, peaches, almonds, olives and truffle-infused oaks for a potential horticultural venture.

NTF also manages three high country stations, Routeburn, Greenstone and Elfin Bay, totalling 35,500 ha near the head of Lake Wakatipu, as well as 49,000 ha of West Coast forest (formerly Timberlands).

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