Bruce Rollinson did a good job representing Ruapehu at Horizons Regional Council - and Richard Steele wants to step up and fill his shoes.

A Retaruke farmer and conservationist, he has worked with Horizons a lot through his time heading the Ruapehu branch of Federated Farmers, and he thinks the council does a good job.

Steele has had a lot of public roles, including leading Ruapehu Federated Farmers twice. He's now a life member, and until recently chaired the Ruapehu-Wanganui Rural Support Trust.

He's also done time on school committees and boards of trustees, an animal health committee and stood for the Act party in Taupo in 1999.


"I've always worked in well with the troops. I'm a team player," he said.

He'd want landowners to take responsibility for looking after the environment - but not get lumbered with all of it.

"Most farmers are very, very good. The rest have to be brought kicking and screaming into line."

Horizons has to walk "a heck of a fine line" between doing right by the ratepayers, the Environment Court and the green movement, he said.

"While farmers thought the One Plan was draconian the Environment Court said it wasn't tough enough."

Steele's hill-country farm near Whakahoro on the Whanganui River was devastated by a rainstorm in March last year, and he says there is a climate emergency.

"We have to adapt faster. Climate change is happening faster then anybody imagines. I'm out on left field with Rachel Stewart and two or three other people like that."

Steele calls himself a self-made farmer. He and his wife Rachel started with a small block of land and worked their way up to the 1400ha Retaruke Station.


He now leases it to son Dan, and the two run a combined farm, tourist operation and honey business across a vast area.

"The core of our business is really farming conservation. We believe that a lot of this class of country should never have been broken in and we go out of our way to shut it up so that the people of Whanganui have clean water to swim in," he said.

"We will only end up farming half or a third of it probably."