28 Aug 2015

Oashore

From Country Life, 9:30 pm on 28 August 2015

 

Ecological protection goes hand in hand with farming at Oashore, a 550 hectare coastal property on Banks Peninsula owned by American businessman Doug DeAngelis.

Since buying the sheep and beef farm, Doug has protected over 50 hectares by covenant under the Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust. The covenant means the magnificent landscape will remain undeveloped.

Kate Whyte lives on the property and manages it. "I lease out the farmland, manage weeds and pests and make sure all the fencing's up to scratch. Looking after the habitat that's here already is priority number one" she says.

There are no longer cattle on Oashore and the non-covenanted part of the farm is only grazed lightly by sheep. The property is distinctive botanically with a number of rare species, including the only population of the shrub Muehlenbeckia astonii on Banks Peninsula.

In the steep gullies that lead down to three isolated bays are pockets native forest.
"The really significant thing about bush like this on the Peninsula is that it's got all the tiers of the vegetation, you've got the podocarps at the top, then under that canopy you've got the hardwood species and then on the bottom you got the ferns and the ground cover species".

Kate and her partner Bruce McCallum have put down dozens of traps to protect the local birdlife from predators such as cats, ferrets, rats and possums. "We see Kereru much more often and fantails, there are more bellbird sounds and the penguins would have travelled into these areas of bush to burrow once upon a time if it wasn't for the predators".

The three bays on the property were used as whaling stations in the 19th century. Nowadays the bays are home to a penguin protection programme and a shipwreck in the sand is a reminder of the dangers the whalers' faced.  

Neighbouring farmer Ted Hutchinson, who has spent most of his 80 years in Magnet Bay, says the shipwreck dates back to 1844. "It was wrecked just round on Magnet Point and then it drifted round and finished up on the beach in Hikuraki Bay. The whalers took all they timber they could get off it to make a store house for the whaling station and the wreck has just laid under the sand ever since".

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