Over fifty Wairarapa and Tararua landowners who protect natural features with QEII covenants were recognised for their generosity by Sir Brian Lochore on 3 March at Wairere Farm north-east of Masterton.
Owned by Derek and Chris Daniell, Wairere Farm is a 1,206 hectare property established as a registered Romney stud over 70 years ago by Len Daniell. With 1,070ha farmed and the balance in bush and manuka, the farm runs 9,500 sheep and 300 breeding cows.
The covenantors along with representatives from Greater Wellington and Horizons Regional Councils, Masterton District Council and the Department of Conservation, were invited to Wairere Farm for lunch with QEII directors and staff and for a tour of the farm.
Right: Sir Brian Lochore, QEII Chairperson, and Derek Daniell from Wairere Farm discussed the benefits of integrating long term conservation with sheep and beef farming.
A 58ha covenant on Wairere Farm has protected four lowland podocarp-hardwood forest remnants containing large totara, black maire and kahikatea since 1988. Another 1.2ha covenant was registered in June 2009.
At the gathering, Sir Brian Lochore, chairperson of the Trust, said in his time with QEII he has been fortunate to meet many generous people who have protected New Zealand’s natural and cultural features with covenants.
‘A QEII covenant is a voluntary protection agreement but once in place it protects the area forever,’ he said.
‘Covenantors like the Daniell family are typical of the landowners who have the foresight to look after their land for future generations.
‘The protected bush on this farm shows the benefits of long term protection by a forward thinking farming family.’
Above: Wairarapa and Tararua QEII covenantors and representatives from regional and district councils and the Department of Conservation gathered in the woolshed at Wairere Farm to meet Sir Brian Lochore and other QEII directors.
Derek Daniell recounted the history of Wairere Farm.
‘The place was rundown when my father, John Daniell, took over the farm in 1951,’ he said.
'With our cold wet winters and dry windy summers, small bush remnants on the knobs easily die out.
‘John started fencing off bush blocks on the farm in the late sixties and early seventies.
'My sister Stella who was working for the Commissioner for the Environment in the 1980s suggested QEII protection. So we had some of the earliest covenants in the Wairarapa.
'By stopping animals going into the bush and with possum control the bush is recovering and we are now seeing rata flowering and flocks of kereru coming in.
‘QEII do a fantastic job and it’s tremendous to see the voluntary win-win for the environment resulting from the relationship between them and landowners.’
Above: In the intensively farmed Wairarapa landscape, the protected forest remnants on Wairere Farm provide wildlife corridors for birds such as kereru.
Above: QEII covenantors and other guests took the opportunity to tour Wairere Farm.
Derek Daniell explained how this 37ha bush block protected by a QEII covenant since 1988 has flourished since being fenced off.
Above: Trevor Thompson, QEII Wairarapa Regional Representative, described the biodiversity of the lowland forest to guests.
‘As stock have been excluded from the block for over 40 years, the bush is very dense and almost impenetrable,’ Trevor said.
‘With kamahi, hinau, tawa, rewarewa, rimu, totara and northern rata, the forest is representative of the original land cover in the Wairarapa.’
On a steep ridge overlooking eastern Wairarapa, the bush is exposed to strong prevailing winds. Trevor explained the effects of wind on bush edges.
‘These bush blocks were part of the much larger 40 Mile Bush that once existed through here,' he said.
'The effects of wind on the edges of such a large forest were less than on the edges of the small remnants of bush now remaining in the Wairarapa.
'Plants on the edge can be stunted while inside there may be little natural regeneration in the dry conditions. This increases the risk of the bush dying off.
‘Here at Wairere, the edges of this bush are healthy with a buffer of hardy natives such as manuka and coprosmas and the native vines climbing them reducing the wind effects in the block.
'A healthy edge is also much more able to keep out exotic weeds from invading the covenants.'
Trevor also explained the value of doing seasonal rat control just prior to bird breeding and how this could be done efficiently with minimum cost and effort.
Right: The healthy edge of this protected bush at Wairere Farm with native bush lawyer and Muehlenbeckia vines climbing the vegetation, keeps the wind from blowing unimpeded through the forest and drying it out or toppling trees.
Published 8 March 2010