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Trevor and Angela Corbin moved from Northland to Southland in 1999 to sharemilk for Tasman Agriculture with the intention of purchasing a farm by 2005.
With large numbers of people converging on the South Island, buying and converting farms, prices had skyrocketed, so the Corbins sold their herd and moved to Tutira in 2006. The intention was to invest their equity in the family farm. They wanted to keep running the farm as a drystock enterprise on Angela’s parents farm. Ian and Eileen Watts owned the family farm at the time and six months ago formed a partnership with Trevor and Angela. After much discussion within the partnership, and prices of sheep not faring too well, it was a natural decision to convert part of the farm into a milking enterprise.
At the time all the decision making processes were taking place, Fonterra had just brought out Gisborne Milk Supplies, and was actively seeking new suppliers.
Ian, Eileen, Trevor and Angela went to one of the Fonterra meetings, which was soon followed up with a visit from a Fonterra representative.
A feasibility study was done and the family were accepted as suppliers for Fonterra. Bankers were then spoken to, and finance arranged to convert the farm and build a new shed.
There were three factors that were main contributors to the conversion. Firstly, being able to employ staff made for an easier lifestyle, and allowed for time out, as well as future proofing the farm and allowing for the succession of family members to take over the farm at a later stage.
Secondly, was the Fonterra canvassing, and thirdly Ian and Eileen had spent a number of years developing an underground bore. “We finished that off 15 months ago.” said Trevor. “Tests at the time showed there was enough water to irrigate 75 hectares.
“The Hawkes Bay summer dry is our biggest threat.” says Trevor. “By irrigating we have minimised that risk. We try and encompass an eight to nine hour working day per labour unit with shifts being rotated. The morning shift finishes about 3pm and the later shifts don’t start till about 9am.”
“We like to look after staff as they are our biggest asset, so it is important to keep them happy.”
Size Counts
Two hundred hectares were converted from the 390 effective hectares of farmland, leaving the steeper hills for wintering the 520 predominantly jersey cows. There are also 500 sheep still grazed on the hills. The farm is cut up by a railway, a road and a gorge.The heavens opened up for my trip to Tutira to visit with Trevor and Angela Corbin. I had to dodge flooded areas, slips and road blocks. You name it, I struck it. I finally arrived at the Watts and Son newly converted dairy farm to view the work in progress.
The new shed, which I expected to be finished when I arrived was still under construction. “It will all be finished and ready to commission next week” says Trevor. I imagine it will be a sight to see too. It looks as though it is going to be yet another fantastic shed when it is fully completed, and the tanker track finished off.
Firstly I met with Barry Wilson from Barry Wilson Electrics. He gave me a quick rundown on his work so far.
There was a big job involved with the electrics for this shed. Prior to the site preparation there was a proliferation of power lines all over the place, some hanging dangerously low, and plenty of them. Wilson Electrics from Napier organised and designed the new power system. All existing wiring was put underground, which tidied up the safety and sight issues.
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