The owners of a prominent 200-hectare dairy farm between Ōtaki and Ōtaki Beach have cited kaitiakitanga as the key reason behind moving their cows off the land to another dairy farm.
The Ōtaki and Porirua Trusts Board (OPTB), which have managed dairy farming operations in Ōtaki for more than 100 years, has made a decision to cease dairy-farming on its Tasman Rd block, in an effort to minimise environmental impacts.
The last of the herd of more than 500 dairy cows would be moved from the land, which has wetland and waterways running through it, by the end of the current farming season, ending May 31.
The proactive decision comes as the Ōtaki-based iwi trust board makes significant changes in 2021 to its land-based farming operations, which it said reflected its commitment to the environment and to future generations.
OPTB chairwoman Rachael Selby said strategic planning over the past three years had reinforced a commitment to kaitiakitanga following a growing appreciation of the sensitivity of land located between the town and the beach.
Selby said in the past three years, in developing a strategic plan, the board had researched land use options across all its holdings.
"It is now in a position to implement significant changes," she said.
Ms Selby said the negative environmental impacts that result from current farming
practices on whenua owned by the OPTB will be reduced.
The board can exercise kaitiakitanga of the land, respect to the iwi owners and the community by proactively reducing the impacts of dairy farming in Ōtaki, she said.
"We expect the iwi and the community will recognise the growing acceptance of the need for all landowners to take meaningful steps to restore the environment for future generations," she said.
"The board is conscious of its responsibilities to protect land and water, environmental health and the wellbeing of its people that include the beneficiaries, stakeholders and wider community."
Selby said the board also recognised its financial responsibilities and requirement to provide educational scholarships to students.
Its current core business was land-based asset management, including dairy farming, land leases and rental properties, and income generated is used as scholarship funds.
Those funds make available scholarships for post-primary education to members up to the age of 20 who whakapapa to the three iwi of Te Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai, Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga and Ngāti Toa Rangatira.
General manager Troy Hobson said the board will relocate its dairy operation and 500 cows to another farm in an established dairy farming area at Manakau.
He noted the board is demonstrating both its commitment to Te Mana o te Wai and to managing its environmental footprint into the future.
Hobson supported the board's decision and commented that it reflects a broad attitude of doing no harm to the land, water and environment.
"It's a brave decision for a traditional farming entity and is a proactive step towards reducing the negative environmental impacts from our commercial activities."
Hobson said the cows would be moved to a farm north of Manakau in what was a recognised dairy farming area with "less sensitive soil types and less waterways".
"At peak, we will have relocated 500 cows to a more traditional farming area," he said.
Hobson said increasing urbanisation on Tasman Rd could see some form of land use change that may include the provision of housing solutions, like kaumātua housing.
"There is a lack of aged care options for kaumātua in Ōtaki," he said.
The board has noted that iwi members have increasingly called for environmental
sustainability and support proactive changes that reflect human relationships with the land.
Hobson said the trust board was now looking at other uses that would best benefit the iwi while making prudent use of the land.
The Ōtaki and Porirua Trusts Board is a registered charitable non-profit organisation created under the Ōtaki and Porirua Trusts Act 1943.
The board has 10 members who are appointed by the governor-general, of which five represent the Diocesan Trusts Board, four represent the Raukawa Marae Trustees, and one represents the Ministry of Education.