Auckland Winners

Whenuanui Farm sheep, beef and forestry farmers Richard and Dianne Kidd

Auckland BFEA Supreme Winners

Richard and Dianne Kidd

AUCKLAND SUPREME WINNERS

Helensville sheep, beef and forestry farmers Richard and Dianne Kidd are the Supreme winners of the 2016 Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).

As close as 45 minutes by car from downtown Auckland, this 4820su beef breeding and sheep breeding and finishing operation is run on 331ha (effective). A pine woodlot is established on 18.5ha and there is 15.3ha of fenced regenerating bush.

The judges noted the extensive use of summer and winter cropping and wrote: “Richard and Dianne have been very pragmatic in their approach to protecting the environment for future generations on the farm. All waterways have been fenced. Shade, shelter and trough water is available to stock in every paddock. They have created biodiversity corridors from upper catchment areas which link to their bush. Mixed plantings including natives such as kauri, rimu and pohutakawa have been carried out over many years in bush remnants. Wetland margins have also been planted with natives. Wildlife is evident with kereru and kaka seen during visit.”

Richard came to the original 275ha farm in 1978 to help out his aunt and uncle, Robert and Jess McCown. Dianne moved there in 1979, when the Kidds were married. The couple looked after the day-to-day operation of the place, gradually working their way into ownership so that since 1992, when Robert and Jess died within a short space of each other, the Kidds have been farming Whenuanui in their own right.

Says Richard: “Initially we were on a limited budget with not a lot of financial control, but even back then we got things underway and always had an end goal in mind.” Dianne explains: “What we have done has been a blend of practical stock management, a love of planting, and our vision for the place.”

The award judges recognised Richard and Dianne’s strength as a couple and described Whenuanui as “well thought out and planned”. They wrote: “It is a key strength, their vision and their ability to plan and execute to achieve their goals.” Dianne has maintained an off-farm career in education then finance and more recently has taken on directorships. The couple’s commitment to their community and agriculture is amply demonstrated by their longstanding and deep involvement in areas such as health, sport and education.

They have three adult sons; David, Hamish and Geoffery who share their parents’ respect for the wish of the late Robert and Jess, that the property remains large enough to be an economic unit. This wish has been part of the motivation behind the Kidds stretching to purchase adjoining properties as they came available through the years, despite the price being elevated by proximity to the city.

The property is also enjoyed by manager Jeffrey Bradly, his wife Tracey and children Riley (8) and Taylor (6). Jeffrey has been on Whenuanui for 16 years; he and Tracey were married there. “We appreciate Jeffrey’s genuine and deep interest in the place,” says Richard.

Jeffrey oversees day-to-day stock management and does the tractor work. Richard takes care of maintenance and administration but also helps on the farm as required, such as during the intensive stock feeding periods in winter. A range of crops are grown including, in summer, maize (for silage), rape, chicory with red clover, plantain and Pasja.

The Kidds have a longstanding lease to graze their 300 Angus breeding cows in the neighbouring Woodhill Forest from June until September. The cows thrive on the roughage there, with some supplementary hay. The trees provide shelter, especially valuable for calving, and having the heaviest stock off the farm during winter protects the soil.

Lambing percentage for the Coopworth flock last year was 162 percent, and an impressive 129 percent for hoggets. All lambs are sold prime to Countdown supermarkets under the “Kaipara Lamb” brand. This was established with nearby farmers last year to highlight their high quality product with minimal stress to lambs due to proximity to abattoir, and their sustainable farming systems.

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