Posted by Grant Paice on Oct 16, 2019
Ngai Tahu Farms
We were privileged to hear last week from Shane Kelly, General Manager Dairy for Ngai Tahu, where he leads the trial and adoption of new technologies in line with the guidance of Mana Whenua to drive profitability and champion industry best practice in animal nutrition, soil management and irrigation.
Shane was born and raised in Hokitika.  He got into agriculture in 2003 and was named Farmer of the Year in 2009.  He joined Ngāi Tahu Farming in 2013 as the Rural Project Manager where he was responsible for overseeing the conversion of forestry to irrigated pasture. 
The approach taken in his work is based on the idea that:
“When the land and the water are sustained the people will prosper.”
With respect to business structure, Ngai Tahu separates out its commercial activities from Iwi with a minimum investment value of $20M.  The key areas it is currently involved in are Farming, Capital, Property, Seafood and Tourism.
“The Iwi side covers off most of our other activities but is still interlinked to our commercial endeavours” explained Shane. 
Current activity includes ongoing development of Eyrewell Forest, plus they also have land at Culverden plus three high country stations and an additional 49 hectares of forestry on the Coast.  “This helps sustain the sawmill industry there” noted Shane.
It is a large operation with over 200 full time employees supporting the use of $430 million dollars of assets.  “People are our greatest taonga (a treasured possession)”, noted Shane, “with our focus being on family, looking after people, building expertise, stewardship and taking action.”
Managing this is a challenge, he explained, as Iwi want to talk about people and the environment while the bankers want to talk about dollars.
Shane then shared that a key focus in their activities involves using innovative technology in order to get the best result while also taking care of the environment. 
Recent gains in this area include (1) reducing their nitrogen footprint by 28% and increasing water savings by 17% which is supported by ensuring 15-20 days of water storage is available for drier periods.  They are also moving to the use of liquid fertilisers which is another win-win change.
“In summary, we aim to use good science to get us there” Shane explained, which includes building and growing relationships with all key players. 
We thanked Shane for sharing the range of activities and approaches Ngai Tahu are actively involved in with their taonga and the innovative approaches they are taking to ensure sustainable best practice in their endeavours.