The Motukawa farms are located in the high country of the northern Rangitikei region of New Zealand’s central North Island. All our farms are within about 50 minutes’ drive from Taihape. Situated on State Highway 1, Taihape is a thriving small town servicing the region. Its population is 1,730.
We are blessed with some of the best pasture in the country. Annual rainfall averages about 1,000mm. The average summer temperature is about 20˚C which is good for grass growth. Winter is chilly and grass growth slows considerably. We often have snow over the winter.
Motukawa is located 20km east of Taihape near the settlement of Moawhango on the Napier-Taihape Road, known historically as the ‘Gentle Annie’. The highest point at Motukawa is at 1,074m, the same elevation as the highest point of the Desert Road to the west.
The property covers 2,100 hectares and comprises mostly hill country. Although most of the property is in pasture (87%), we have 40 hectares in exotic pine forest, 105 hectares in indigenous bush and the remaining 120 hectares in light scattered bush.
We winter 12,500 breeding ewes (mostly Romdales) and 600 Angus breeding cows. Kevin Saville, the manager at Motukawa, says there’s been an improvement in the farm’s stock since the sheep breed was changed from straight Romneys to Romdales (Perendale over a Romney).
“Romdales are hardier than pure Romneys and do better on our tough country. It’s certainly helped our lambing percentage – it used to be 98%, but in recent years we have done 141%. It’s also been helped by the new, sugar-rich varieties of grass we now grow.”
Kevin Saville, Manager
Motukawa is famous for the largest fossil find in the central North Island. In 2001 a dog, belonging to one of our fencers, fell down a sinkhole. On lifting out the dog, there was a very large cave full of moa bones – some of which were up to 4,000 years old. Most of the bones can now be found in the Whanganui Regional Museum.
Kevin has managed Motukawa since 2002. He has one full-time hand and two full-time shepherds, and employs casual staff at busy times of the year.
Kellys and Black Hill
Kellys and Black Hill properties (known collectively as ‘Kellys’) adjoin each other. Located on the Rangitikei River. Black Hill is located 42 km to the east of Taihape on the Napier-Taihape Road (known historically as the ‘Gentle Annie’) while the main entrance to Kellys is a further 5 km east towards Napier.
With a combined land area of 2,580 hectares, Kellys could be called ‘real high country’ with 70% of the property being moderately steep to very steep country. The remaining 30% of Kellys comprises beautiful rolling flats on the tops of the steep country. Some of the property runs down to the Rangitikei River where there are 60 hectares of river flats – which are mostly irrigated.
Kellys winters 13,000 sheep and 1,600 cattle. The property also has 190 hectares in exotic pine forestry and almost 14 hectares of indigenous bush.
“Kellys is one of the most picturesque and beautiful places I have worked on. I like the big, open spaces and the romance of it all.”
Stephen Ponsonby, Manager
Stephen manages Kellys with a full-time general hand and two full-time shepherds. Casual staff are employed at busy times of the year.
Our only property located to the west of Taihape, Northview is 14 km away from the town and close to the settlement of Mataroa.
Northview comprises 597 hectares of rolling to medium hill country most of which is in pasture. At elevations ranging from 520-730 metres above sea level, manager ‘JJ’ Walker says, “Despite the lower elevation, we still get a bit of snow in winter. We certainly get our share of weather coming off the mountain, especially the nor’westerly.”
Simon Plimmer explains that the purchase of Northview in 2010, at a lower elevation than the other properties, enabled the family to have the ideal place to fatten cattle and lambs.
“So we use Northview mostly as a finishing unit. It has around 3,500 breeding ewes and, depending on growing conditions, Northview can finish up to 6,000 lambs and 200 head of cattle.”
JJ Walker, Manager
JJ Walker manages Northview, assisted by a number of casual staff at busy times of the year.