Parininihi ki Waitotara’s No 2 farm at Ohangai just east of Hawera won 2016’s Taranaki Supreme Award in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards. It is a great example of what’s now happening on all the PKW farms in Taranaki.
Farming is important to PKW and it is continuing to strengthen its farming business, while striving for excellence 24/7.
Parahininihi ki Waitotara, often referred to as PKW, is a Maori Incorporation established in 1976.
While the Incorpation is 40 years old, PKW is a relatively new farmer in its own right and over the past 10 years has embarked on a strategy to buy land and increase their footprint in the region. Today it is the largest dairy farmer in Taranaki with over 9,500 Maori shareholders.
In the same period, it grew from three staff to around 30 employees and the sharemilking/contracting arrangements are additional to this. It also grew to now owning 15 dairy farms and 12 dairy support units, with a combined land commitment of just under 4,000 ha.
The farm is 159ha with 325 Friesian cross cows milked. It has a new effluent system and 60 bale rotary cowshed with in-shed feeding. Production in 2015/16 was 145,067kgMS and this year the target with a system three operation is 127,000kgMS.
Production has increased by 32,000kgMS from the previous season. The farm is on both sides of the road at Ohangai, with an underpass. They grow 9ha of turnips, and 7.5ha of maize on a nearby run off block. Effluent can be spread over 32ha.
Hinerangi Raumati is chair of PKW. “As a Maori Incorporation we want to see more of our people involved in PKW and also the agribusiness sector, which we believe is a good thing for all of Aotearoa. Supporting Taranaki Maori with their studies through a PKW tertiary grant or scholarship and more recently a new relationship with Landbased Training which delivers farm training as part of the Maori and Pasifika Trade Training programme.”
“We believe that to strengthen our farming business we have to take care of the land, and the people, and if we do this well, we’ll move forward; and there’s a well-known whakatauki that captures this perfectly; which is:
Like most dairy farmers, PKW has been challenged by the milk price but Hinerangi says this is also valuable time to look closely at how PKW operates its farms, including its environmental and health and safety standards.
While relevant legislation exists, Hinerangi says PKW wants to create a strong environmental, and health and safety culture because “we believe that that is our obligation of caring for the land and the people.”
This is an organisation-wide philosophy. Winning the 2016 Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards was “a real honour”. PKW also won the Massey University Innovation Award and the WaterForce Integrated Management Awards; two other prestigious awards within the BFEA.
“Competitions like these allow us to test our practices, receive independent feedback, learn and make changes across our entire organisation” says Hinerangi.
“We have a new strategy for growing the workforce and our capability and potential for succession. It’s still early days for us, but we have developed a relationship with Landbase Training which is a private training establishment based in Hawera, so we have an arrangement with them to encourage our shareholders to enrol in programmes with them.”
Roger Landers is PKW’s Dairy Farm Supervisor. For him, excellence on a PKW farm means, “Doing the right thing, at the right time in the right way and we’ve done a lot of work developing our systems and processes.”
A lot of valuable infrastructure has been invested onto this farm such as water conservation, riparian planting, upgrading the effluent system and installing solar panels to the milking system. Roger notes, this level of investment doesn’t just happen; “a lot of thoughtful planning, time and puutea has gone into this.”
“It’s important that it all comes together and having the right people is the key since these people tweak the system to improve it, manage the information. We’re moving to a point where our farm managers know ‘why’ something happened to make better decisions.”
“Over the past couple of years PKW has taken its health and safety obligations seriously not because of the legislation but because we don’t want anyone who comes onto our farms, hurt.”
All PKW farms have health and safety plans that covers all risk management. They have standard operating procedures for our cow sheds and the management of all critical risk hazards. The senior management team have farm safety walks to engage with the farmers and a wellbeing programme for all employees. Also run are; health and safety forums, and life saver rules, along with drug and alcohol testing. Roger says it’s a comprehensive programme and well worth it, “so they go home safely to their whanau.”
Roger says of the BFEA awards; “Entering the competition to win was never the motive but it was a fantastic surprise that we did, and we’re grateful. The real reason was to challenge ourselves, our systems, to learn more and improve. I also wanted to introduce our farm manager Matt Kelbrick to a new experience that would inspire and challenge him, and it did.”
“One might think that based on all of this investment we should have won the competition, but having the infrastructure, systems and processes is no guarantee of success. What makes any system successful is the people and PKW has very good people. So what does excellence mean on a PKW farm? Excellence is about caring for the land and caring about the people.”
The Ballance judges said Roger and farm manager Matt Kelbrick have an exceptional working relationship, resulting in excellent outcomes for the farming business. They have an outstanding use of new technologies to ensure long term sustainability. The passion shown by Matt for this farm and agriculture was inspirational, and all development and planning showed a commitment to economical and environmentally sustainable farming.
The system is set up for 650 cows and is currently compliant for 500. The judges said it was an impressive effluent system and the effort that had gone into the setup deserved credit for being proactive and seeking sound advice to make best use of a free nutrient source.
Roof water is recycled, and the shed uses green water wash from the treated effluent. Solar panels are installed on the cowshed roof.
The judges noted the biodiversity consideration on the farm, which reflected the long term view of land guardianship expressed by PKW. All waterways are fenced, old oxidation ponds filled in and small areas of the farm are being retired and planted with natives.