Thursday, December 7, 2023

Staff key to Rangitaiki Station’s success

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Rangitaiki Station has made big environmental gains over the past few years, but there’s still work to do yet. Gerald Piddock reports.
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There's no such thing as small-scale at Rangitaiki Station.

The vast 9500-hectare property east of Taupo is Pamu’s largest farm on a stock unit basis, wintering 85,000 sheep, cattle and deer.

Only Molesworth Station in the South Island, which Pamu also manages, is larger in land mass.

Its 8317 effective hectares breeds and finishes sheep, beef and deer, supplying lamb, bull and prime beef to Silver Fern Farms and its venison to Duncan Venison.

The property contains 625ha of protected areas and 852ha of production forestry.

Overseeing the running of the station and its 22 full-time staff, is farm business manager Sam Bunny.

These staff are divided into teams which manage each stock species.

He says there is a great group of leaders within these teams that he relies on and would not be able to manage such a large farming business without them.

“Our people are our key, they’re really important to us and we have a great team,” he said.

He meets with the leaders of each team once a week and those team leaders meet with staff every Monday morning to plan the week ahead and discuss any health and safety concerns.

Looking after people is one of Rangitaiki Station’s core values, the others being profit and environmental sustainability.

“It’s who we are and what we are trying to do,” he said.

“We have this saying: we want to make the farm better tomorrow than it is today, so we’re forever after improvement.”

Rangitaiki Station farm business manager Sam Bunny oversees a staff of 22 on the 9500ha property.

While Bunny cannot be sure what lies ahead for Rangitaiki Station, he is adamant New Zealand is entering into a new age of farming.

Environmental sustainability has become the norm and he wants to front-foot any new central or local government policies as much as possible.

“That’s been the biggest focus for us going forward. We have been on this really positive journey in that space and it’s just going to continue to grow,” he said.

He says the challenges it did face have largely been dealt with such as the fencing of waterways and the reduction of winter cropping.

Those that remained were more shelter for the stock and dealing with ways to farm without excessive nutrients leaking through its leaky pumice soils.

“That’s the journey we are on, but we have a long way to go,” he said.

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