Mangarata. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

PAM GRAHAM
pam.graham@age.co.nz

Neighbour Geoff McKay has purchased Mangarata, one of the farms owned by the Taratahi Institute of Agriculture, and will run it has a sheep and beef farm.

He says he purchased the 518ha farm on April 12 and will look to employ a manager for the property who takes an equity stake in it.

Parts of the farm were previously owned by the McKay family, who have been farming in the region since 1883.

Mangarata was put on the market by the liquidator of Taratahi which collapsed amid a storm of debate about the level of government funding of education for agriculture and the management of the largest provider of it.

The government did not bail it out and launched a proposal to completely revamp tertiary education. It remains unclear if the funding issues are resolved.

The government is expected to purchase the other farm owned by Taratahi, the so-called home farm, which is run as a dairy unit.

But there was no news on this when Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor spoke to Wairarapa farmers at a function via Skype.

McKay says Mangarata “is in good condition”.

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, according to marketing material for the sale.

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.

The balance of the contour is 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.

Taratahi Farm Training Centre was established in Masterton in 1919 to provide agricultural job training for soldiers returning from World War I.

It offered full-time agricultural training and short courses.

David Carter announced the purchase of Mangarata at Taratahi’s graduation ceremony in 2008.

“This purchase is a significant development for Taratahi and the government’s support for it is a sign of our commitment to excellence in agricultural training,” he said at the time.