Hawke’s Bay celebrated its inaugural biodiversity field day in early February, with grower Xan Harding leading a posse of viticulturist utes on a tiki tour around the wider Bridge Pa area.
The unique agricultural institution is well known for delivering high-quality, hands-on training for some of New Zealand’s best up and coming farmers. A recent purchase of the neighbouring land will see the station increase its cadet intake and expand farming operations.
Smedley advisory board chair Pat Portas says the purchase has been made possible by vendors Stephen and Charlotte Wilson, who have owned and farmed the acquired property known as Parks Peak for more than 30 years.
"They see the benefit Smedley Station delivers for the wider agricultural industry and their decision to offer us their land for purchase will impact many. For this property to come available right on our boundary is extremely exciting for the future of the station," says Portas.
"Smedley Station is growing the next generation of farmers and is an inherent part of our country’s farming industry. This expansion is not only good news for every cadet who passes through the station gates, but also great news for New Zealand’s agricultural future."
Tony Shea, senior trust officer rural properties at Public Trust, which administers Smedley Station on behalf of the Crown, says the expansion is a win for New Zealand’s farming sector as a whole.
"Smedley Station has a long and positive track history, and this deal is testament to the sound business practice behind the operation," says Shea.
The deal will see Smedley Station expand by 532ha to just over 5,500ha. The new land is adjacent to the current station across the Makaroro River.
Smedley Station and Cadet Training Farm has been a part of New Zealand’s agricultural landscape for close to 90 years. The farm was originally owned by Josiah Howard and then bequeathed to the King upon his death in 1919 to be used for the agricultural training of young Kiwi farmers.
It is now held in trust for the Crown, as a permanent endowment for the purposes of agricultural education. The first training course was opened in 1931, and since then, more than 600 young farmers have successfully graduated.
Smedley Station operates as a commercial farm, running sheep, cattle and deer. It is a self-funding facility, with cadets attending free of charge and receiving a small bursary.
The station is run by on-farm manager Rob Evans, who is responsible for the organisation and coordination of both the theoretical and practical aspects of cadet training.
Evans says the additional land delivers a number of benefits for cadets, both present and future, and the training programme as a whole.
"It means we can train more cadets, and that’s more young people into agriculture. We’ll also be adding another team member to run the block.
"Our programme is unique in the level of one-on-one training, and more land means more training without diluting the quality we’re known for.
"It also gives us more flexibility in stock levels, pushing us up over 30,000 stock units. The new land, which will be run as a stand-alone unit, mixes in well and complements what we already have."
Associate Minister of Justice, Aupito William Sio who has responsibility for Public Trust, provided the consent for the purchase of the extra land.
"The additional land will provide a great opportunity to increase the number of cadets into the agricultural training course," he says.
Demand for places at Smedley Station is high, and each year, around 80 applications nationwide are received from 16 to 18-year-olds for the limited places.
Over the two-year cadetship they are exposed to every aspect of sheep, cattle and deer farming. They undertake a diverse programme from traditional stockmanship to learning the latest advancements in farming technologies and core business components.