Coastline Retirement at Tautane Station

November 2017

Conservation work pays off for farm management at Tautane Station.

Three neighbouring landowners have protected a huge swath of coastline around Cape Turnagain with the QEII National Trust, a move which is a first for Hawke’s Bay. 

Tautane Station, owned by Ngati Kahungunu, and leased by Taratahi Training Institution, is a huge property on the coast at Herbertville. It’s a sheep and beef coastal property an hour east of Dannevirke and Waipukurau at Cape Turnagain. It covers 3,700ha carrying around 30,000 stock units. The farm is summer dry and winter wet and it’s a very windy place. 

Matt Smith runs the farm and the training institution, where Taratahi students learn practical farming skills during their studies. There are seven students on the farm for two weeks at a time involved in whatever is going on at the farm. They are taught life skills by Matt’s wife Claire, as well as farming skills. 

Fencing off several kilometres of high ecological value coastline has improved farm management at Tautane Station. Matt Smith says farm management is easier with a fenced covenant, with time saved when shifting sheep from the blocks where the coast is fenced, and stock losses are also kept to a minimum. The farm features five separate QEII National Trust covenants, three along the coast and two over bush blocks. 

The area protected covers 89ha, stretching 5.8km from Whangaehu Beach south to Poroporo, encompassing three landowners. There is a gap of 3.5km of steep country running to Cape Turnagain and from there a further 3.5km of coastline is fenced with 111ha of land protected at the Cape. South from the Cape a further 1.6km covering 21ha along the beach has been retired. It is the longest stretch of coastline on private land protected by National Trust covenants anywhere in the country says Tararua representative, Bill Wallace. It’s been a team effort across the whole landscape. 

The three owners are: 

  1. At Tautane Station, the Kahungunu Asset Holding Company. Their covenanting work was done by the previous owners, the Herrick and Elworthy families. Their most northern covenant is 39ha protected from the Poroporo basin to the north end of the property.
  2. The middle part of the coastline is protected by Mark and Christine Stoddart and their son Wade, and this area is 32ha.
  3. The third area is covenanted by the McLean family, and is 18ha in a long thin strip which was completed last year. 

It’s so windy on this site battens aren’t used on the fence because they would shorten the fence life through wear of wires and staples. They are very difficult fencelines to build, with areas of hard mudstone, slumping land and limestone rocks and bluffs. It needed quite a bit of bulldozer and digger work to prepare the line for fencing. 

Hayden Hape is the liaison for the Ngati Kahungunu iwi incorporated for Tautane Station. His role is to oversee the farm for the iwi and liaise with Taratahi. Hayden says, “This land here has huge connections to Maori, to Ngati Kahungunu. We have a lot of marae sites here, kumara pits and a lot of old history here. And over time, there’s been a lot of maimai on how this whenua was lost to a lot of the hapu and whanau. So with the iwi getting this land back, in some way it was sort of a help with the healing process for those families. There was a lot of controversy over the selling of these lands but the history here is huge.” 

The QEII National Trust

  • The QEII National Trust was established in 1977.
  • It wants people to understand and support what it is doing and achieving in partnership with landowners.
  • The National Trust was set up by farmers for farmers and other private landowners as a way to protect areas of special value, voluntarily and while retaining ownership of the protected land.
  • The National Trust works in partnership with rural landowners to permanently protect natural and cultural features on their land with covenants.
  • In most cases covenants are established in areas that have been extensively modified, where the remaining natural values are highly threatened and therefore most in need of protection.
  • Since 1977 the network of protected places around the country has grown steadily.

Today landowners are protecting (approved and registered) around 180,000ha with QEII National Trust covenants, about the same area as Rakiura/Stewart Island.

  • The 4000th covenant was registered in 2015.
  • On average two covenants a week are registered.
  • The voluntary permanent protection with covenants and restoration of nature habitats demonstrates care and respect so many farmers and landowners have for the land and our natural and cultural heritage. 

The National Trust

  • The National Trust acts as a perpetual trustee to ensure the covenant remains protected forever.
  • It works closely with the Department of Conservation, regional and district councils, Heritage New Zealand, Landcare Research, New Zealand Walking Access Commission, the New Zealand Farm Environment Award Trust and many other groups and individuals committed to protecting and enhancing New Zealand’s diverse open spaces
  • It owns 27 properties, which collectively protect 1,524 hectares. These properties have mostly been gifted to the National Trust. Effective stewardship of these properties is greatly assisted by local communities and management committees.
  • QEII National Trust covenantors are protecting some of our most rare and threatened biodiversity and landscapes/ecosystems
  • Covenants range from small patches protecting a critically threatened plant to large areas protecting iconic landscapes.