Sisters Judith Lambert and Margaret Hancox are returning home in a sense and turning the old family block in Westmere into a kiwifruit orchard.
The sisters grew up on the Whanganui family block, part of which remains on the corner of Watt Livingston and Rapanui Rds. The farm has been in the family for the best part of 120 years.
Their maiden name is Cave and they are cousins of successful dairy farmer Bruce Cave, who has a large operation nearby on the coast at Seafield Rd.
Judith Lambert and husband Richard farm sheep and beef in Hunterville, while Margaret and her family live the city life in Auckland.
The Whanganui block had been leased to nearby dairy farmers, but when they decided not to renew the lease, the sisters were at a loss of what to do with the land.
"We were a bit shocked when the lease was not renewed and at a loss of what to do with the land," Judith Lambert said.
"After a bit of discussion and looking around we decided on kiwifruit after talking to the lawyers. We were impressed by what David Wells was doing expanding his Mangamahu kiwifruit orchard and the investment by dairy farmers Jarrod and Hollie Murdoch at Waitotara.
"This will be our first foray into horticulture, but it's hugely exciting. Whanganui Welldrillers have found a very good source of water for us already, although deeper than we thought and the shelter belt will go in before we begin building the framework. The kiwifruit will go in next winter.
"We understand Whanganui is a great place to grow kiwifruit and we will be planting 20 hectares of the 49ha block."
Like Wells and the Murdochs, the sisters have employed Gisborne-based Apata Group Limited, which harvests, packs and stores fruit, to provide infrastructure and oversee the growing of these crops.
In an earlier interview Wells, who began growing kiwifruit in 1978, said Apata's involvement, as well as support from local investors, "triggered it all".
"We've been dealing with them [Apata] for 10 or 15 years, so they knew the potential here," Wells said.
"They're the experts we're relying on, and they believe that this area is a particularly good site.
"For them to put in infrastructure they really need a minimum for 60ha, so between me, Jarrod and Holly, and another site, they've got their 60ha."
The other site he was alluding to was the 20ha orchard planned by the sisters.
The plan involved all the orchards growing green kiwifruit.
The plant variety right to grow gold kiwifruit is owned by Zespri, and the option of the right to grow is selling for around $400,000 a hectare.
That is why the sisters have also opted to grow the green variety.