Lagoon Hill Station. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

Up to 100,000 natives to be planted

PAM GRAHAM
pam.graham,@age.co.nz

Lagoon Hill Station, the sizeable South Wairarapa property owned by famous merchant banker Sir Michael Fay for more than 25 years, has been sold to investors who will increase the amount of forestry on the land.

The property near Martinborough had two forestry blocks on it as well as a farm running 10,000 Romney sheep and Angus cattle and a world-class hunting operation.

The buyer is Kauri Forestry LP, a grouping of long-term passive European investors who are using Craigmore Sustainables, a specialist manager of rural properties, as managers.

The property had 1400ha of established pine forest and the new owner will plant a further 1300ha, leaving an operational farm of 500 to 600ha.

Che Charteris, chief executive of Craigmore Sustainables, said the investors were experienced in sustainable forestry and would manage the land to a high standard.

Sir Michael is best known for his backing of New Zealand’s first America’s Cup yachting campaign in 1987. He purchased the South Wairarapa station in 1993 from the Riddiford family.

Lagoon Hill Station was part of the original Te Awaiti property owned by Daniel Riddiford in the 19th century and is a 20-minute drive from Martinborough.

Sir Michael was said to be “quite passionate” about the property and took a strong interest in it, having visited frequently over the years. His reasons for selling were not disclosed and nor was the price.

Craigmore Sustainables said it aimed to gain Forest Stewardship Council certification for the property within the first 36 months of ownership, which would require the upskilling of the appointed local forest management company.

A blueprint to improve Lagoon Hills included better integrating forestry and farming.

Forested areas would be available for livestock grazing once the trees were well-established and biodiversity and freshwater quality would be improved by establishing 30m-wide native plantings alongside permanent waterways and rehabilitating degraded wetlands.

As many as 60,000-100,000 native trees would be planted and pest management would improve.

The hunting accommodation.

Critics have said forestry owners were not as active managers of land and contributed less to local economies but the new owner talked of “more stable and local fulltime employment opportunities” and of providing access to land for beekeepers.

Harvesting would be spread over longer time periods and there would be opportunities for “public enjoyment” of the forested areas.

Andy Scott, spokesman for the 50 Shades of Green group, said it was refreshing to see the new owners were retaining some of the land as a farm. He also approved of the plans to plant native plants.

He said some of the existing forestry on the station was probably “the right tree in the right place” but he took exception to some of the economic arguments put forward by the purchaser.

He said sheep and beef farming made a much greater contribution to the economy and provided more jobs.

His group was not against trees but it was against investors who planted trees to claim carbon credits for 25 years and then just walked away.

The new owner said it would also further engage with tangata whenua to identify and protect important sites.

“As an owner and manager of farms, orchards and forests, Craigmore Sustainables understands first-hand the tricky matrix of manaaki, kaitiaki and economic issues associated with converting from one land-use to another,” Charteris said.

The deal comes after Hadleigh, a big sheep and beef farm near Masterton, sold to an Austrian aristocrat and will be turned into a forest.

It is one of many transactions that started a lobby calling for better research into the triggers for land conversion and research into the impact the conversion would have on local economies.

Woodchester sells

PAM GRAHAM
pam.graham@age.co.nz

Woodchester in Cole St, Masterton, has sold. PHOTO/HARCOURTS

Woodchester has sold to a couple from out of town who intend to live there and be custodians of one of Masterton’s finest homes.

Agent Jamie Slater of Harcourts isn’t disclosing the price but it will become public within weeks on websites with property information and will almost certainly be a record price for Masterton.

The house at 80 Cole St which last changed hands in 2013 for $950,000, had a rateable value of $1.45m, and was expected to sell in a range from $1.61m to $1.83m, according to homes.co.nz.

It did not sell at tender in July and had remained on the market.

Slater said everyone involved in the transaction was “over the moon”. The purchasers were extremely happy and so were the vendors.

The buyers were an older couple who had a passion for historic homes.

“It is fantastic,” Slater said. “They are the most wonderful people and they will be the perfect custodians of this wonderful home.”

There has been turnover of some quality real estate in Masterton in recent times, according to homes.co.nz.

Cole House at 89 Cole St sold for $903,000 in June last year, 74 Essex St sold for $900,000 and 19 Milford Downs sold for $900,000.

Two properties on Terrace End have sold but the prices aren’t publicly available yet.

Cricklewood House on the corner of Pownall and Essex streets was marketed earlier this year and a sale does not appear on homes.co.nz, which estimates its value in the range from $1.52m to $1.76m.

Liz Greville and her husband, Paddy, owned Woodchester for 35 years, raising their children there, before selling to the vendors, the Vennings.

The six-bedroom property sits on two hectares of land in an arrow-shape.

The house was designed by architect Charles George Monro, and built in the early 1930s for Edward Norman. He and his son, Peter, had long careers in the leadership of the New Zealand meat industry with Thomas

Borthwick and Sons, owners of the Waingawa and other freezing works.