Dealing with Environmental Regulation
– a Farmers Experience

By John Burke

This is the first of a series of articles to be provided by John Burke who along with his brother Rick are farming drystock on their 300ha Bay of Plenty Farm.

We have persuaded them to share their story and experiences of having to deal with farm system and land use change to address serious environmental issues. Their journey of change is the same all farmers are currently facing except for them it began in the late 1990’s so their learnings (including things they got wrong) will provide valuable insight and hopefully inspiration for other farmers to begin addressing what seems to be an overwhelming challenge to their way of farming.

Rick & Johns opening observations about their journey are that the decisions required regarding land environmental planning and land use change become common sense when we start to look at our landscapes through a different lens. Both say “good things take time ……. treat the process as a marathon not a sprint, start small and the results will be highly rewarding.”

Pukekauri Farm is located on Lund Road 6km south of Katikati, in the Western Bay of Plenty. The farm lies in Te Mania catchment and receives water directly from the Kaimai Range DOC Estate on its western boundary.

When the property was purchased in the 1990’s BOPRC approached Rick Burke to advise that erosion from the farm was causing considerable sedimentation damage to Te Mania awa and estuary. Thus, the journey commenced where Pukekauri prepared a Land Environment Plan (LEP) across the property and with BOPRC support began retiring riparian margins, wetland and unproductive grazing land from grazing concentrating pastoral farming on the best land.

The farm has become a mosaic of land use combining sheep and beef farming, mixed production forest, native bush and wetlands most of which are under pest management. Regular environmental assessments confirm a steady improvement in bird populations and eco-system health. Most importantly, sediment loss into Te Mania stream has been arrested and awa health through the farm restored. Further environmental restoration work has continued and is planned for the future with the underlying goal to ensure that water leaving the property is in the same pristine state in which it is received.

The next article will deal with The Land Environmental Planning Process.


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