Mangarata has been sold as part of the liquidation of Taratahi. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

PAM GRAHAM
pam.graham@age.co.nz

Mangarata, one of the most valuable assets of the collapsed Taratahi Institute of Agriculture, has sold.

Agent Blair Stevens confirmed the sale but would not say who to or for how much.

The 518ha sheep and beef breeding and semi finishing unit is located just five minutes from Masterton and was expected to sell for $5-7 million

It is understood it has sold somewhere in the middle of that range and it isn’t going to be converted to forestry.

Liquidator David Ruscoe of Grant Thornton did not return calls.

Mangarata and the Wairarapa campus, and home dairy farm land and campus were owned by Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre [Wairarapa] Trust Board while other farms were leased. The sale of the home farm requires the approval of the Minister of Agriculture and it must be used for educational purposes.

The home farm is expected to be purchased by the Government but there was no news on this when farmers met near Martinborough recently, with a video link to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

He said Taratahi would remain a base for a replacement operation which he hoped would open “maybe early next year”.

According to the first liquidator’s report, there are 1194 unsecured creditors owed $15.86m who rank behind secured creditors, owed $12.55m, and also preferential creditors.

Taratahi’s listed assets include $1.86m of accounts receivable, $11.49m of livestock, shares in organisations like Fonterra worth $2.2m, and fixed assets worth $1.32m.

Taratahi had owned Mangarata since 2009 and improvements to the property in that time included a new four-stand woolshed and covered yards, new cattle yards, 8km of fencing, capital fertiliser, drainage and development of the flats and cultivable hills with new grasses, clovers and herbs.

There are two houses located together with the woolshed, cattle yards, hay/implement shed, workshop and other storage sheds just off the sealed Caves Rd entrance.

Of the 518ha about 476ha is considered effective. There are about 25ha of alluvial-based road flats which are complemented by approximately 50ha of easy rolling cultivable land towards the middle of the farm, with the balance of the contour being medium hill country sitting on mudstone soils.

Summer and winter fodder cropping as well as regrassing is undertaken on 20 per cent of the cultivable land per annum. The property winters around 3500 sheep and 150 cattle.

Asked why the Government had not bailed out Taratahi, O’Connor said the system had been broken.

“I’m glad we didn’t put any money into Taratahi as the model was broken.

“We need to start again.”