Peter and Louise Oskam saw 70,000 trees planted on land owned by their family trust last winter.

Their 50ha of land upriver from Kaiwhaiki Pā will be long-term, slow growing, high value forestry, networked with tracks open to people who contact them first.

"It's commercial forestry and it has to be commercially sustainable, but it will be aesthetic and enjoyable," Peter Oskam said.

"We want to share our special space," his wife added.


The two have many plans for the 50ha. They imagine people walking and mountainbiking, people admiring views, people gathering and weaving flax, hunters having their first supervised duckshooting experience, people swimming, kayaking and camping and groups coming to see successful native plantings.

"It just seems to be a place that lends itself to that. We are open to what people would like to do in this space. We have no hard and fast plan of what it will be."

They've taken stock off the land, and sprayed most of the hillside to kill gorse and grass.

There are tracks for the forestry and the first of a series of pools and dams that will return clean water to the Whanganui River.

Bush has been kept and will be added to, blending into commercial plantings of macrocarpa, redwood, eucalypts and pines.

At the moment the hillside is bare and bald. It will be completely different in three years, Louise Oskam said.

The forestry trees will take 50 to 100 years to mature. They'll be taken out in small groups or kept to store carbon. The forest will be registered with the Emissions Trading Scheme, and claim carbon credits (NZUs).

The land is owned by the Takahuri Trust. The trustees are Louise and Peter Oskam and lawyer Peter Brown. The Oskams' three sons will be beneficiaries. Son Jacob is helping with development.


Others can see the benefit. The Whanganui River Enhancement Trust has granted $25,000 a year for the next three years. It will be used for planting native trees and carrying on with the dams and pools taking run-off to the river.

Willows along 2km of the river have been poisoned, and will be replaced by native trees.

Fish & Game has made a grant because the pools will be valuable duck habitat.

For 30 years Peter Oskam has worked with advisor Ian Moore, who has his own successful combination of forestry and conservation on land in Longacre Rd.

Louise Oskam hopes the two will help with other projects.

"They have huge knowledge and experience, that they both want to share."

The Oskams' neighbour, Ken Clarke, can talk about local history. Their isolated portion of the river had big kūmara gardens and was densely settled in pre-European times.

The Oskams hope to support and influence Kaiwhaiki Marae and the owners of the commercial forest next door on their own river and land projects.

They have put $150,000 into the Takahuri project so far - some of the proceeds from selling their Creative Aluminium business.

There is a busy three years ahead - maintaining existing trees, planting more and continuing with weed and pest control.

There are possum bait stations dotted about and they shoot rabbits, hares, goats and deer. There are composting toilets to build.

Peter and Louise are not turning their land into a public reserve, but welcome people to visit.

Sprayed off now, the 50ha will look completely different in three years when the trees take hold. Photo / Stuart Munro
Sprayed off now, the 50ha will look completely different in three years when the trees take hold. Photo / Stuart Munro

Visitors should email a couple of days in advance.