Country Life

Friday 24 June 2016, with Carol Stiles, Susan Murray, Cosmo Kentish-Barnes & Duncan Smith

Grow and share

Chris Rance

Chris Rance Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

The Southland Community Nursery in Otatara grows locally-sourced native plants best suited for Southland conditions.

Brian and Chris Rance started the nursery about 20 years ago after they purchased a block of swampy farmland near the New River Estuary. They wanted to restore a paddock into bush but they couldn’t afford to buy lots of native plants so they set about doing it themselves and it’s grown for there.

“In the 1980’s the paddock was cleared of bush and we’re taking a lifetime to put it back up again...” Chris says.

About 8000 plants were grown at the nursery this year and many are allotted to volunteers who plant them on their properties.

“The idea is we’re a charitable trust, the nursery, and people come and help out and can take plants for free if they volunteer.”

They also supply plants to the Southland Multicultural Council in Invercargill who give them away to new citizens who settle in the area.

“More recently we’ve been selecting kōwhai because they attract tui and bellbirds and they’re a very significant plant for New Zealand and Southland, so that’s often the plant we give away now.”

A recent addition to the nursery is an education centre that is used regularly by school groups.

"It means that school groups can come, they are not discouraged by the weather, but we always want to get them outside so it’s just a means to and end really."

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Josiah Firth - Colonial Entrepreneur

Auckland entrepreneur Josiah Firth had his fingers in a lot of pies.

He was briefly in the House of Representatives, was a Director of the Bank of New Zealand, the Thames Valley Rotorua Railway, the New Zealand Frozen Meat company, owned the largest flour mill in Auckland, was a large investor in gold mining and built a dairy company; he also came to own 55-thousand acres of land at near Matamata.

Firth also had a penchant for towers.

He had New Zealand's first concrete tower built on his estate near Matamata and one at his home in Mount Eden. Both still stand. He's the father of what came to be known as Firth Concrete.

This year marks 150 years since Josiah Firth started farming in Waikato; first leasing the land from Ngati Haua and later converting it into his ownership.

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Colin Cox - Pioneer Deer Farmer and Possumer

Colin Cox Pioneer Deer Farmer and Possum Hunter

Colin Cox Photo: RNZ/Susan Murray

Colin Cox was been involved in the very beginnings of deer farming in New Zealand, and the development of possum fibre for use in clothing. He's written down his life experiences which Country Life has turned into a booking reading series.

Part 1 - Colin sets the scene for his role as a New Zealand pioneer.

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Young Entrepreneurs

Last week more than 130,000 people went through the gates at the National Agricultural Fieldays near Hamilton.

Ten of those were top, young South East Asian agri-business leaders and entrepreneurs.

They'd been selected on recommendations from our embassies and High Commissions in South East Asia and were in New Zealand on a programme managed by the Asia New Zealand Foundation - especially timed to coincide with Fieldays.

The Foundation says the programme was designed to give the participants an idea of what we do well in New Zealand,  how we use technology to farm and to detail government regulations around agriculture and why they've been put in place. The idea was also to put them in touch with people they might want to do business with.

The young agri-business leaders were from Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos and Myanmar.

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Regional Wrap

West Coast dairy farmers Hannah and Thomas Oats

West Coast dairy farmers Hannah and Thomas Oats Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

In Waikato there have been 18 degree days and pasture growth rates are much better than expected. Cows are putting on condition and are being grouped according to whether they are early or late calvers. In Canterbury some spill over rain from the Northwest spread across the plains this week although it's still extremely dry for the time of year.

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