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Auckland Council's farms featured on Country Calendar

Published: 20 October 2020

Viewers tuning into Country Calendar on 11 October would hardly have been surprised to see green pastures and grazing sheep on the TV screen.

But they might be surprised to know they’re all part of our farms – and the farm workers were Auckland Council staff.

“It was nerve-racking being interviewed. I spend all my days with animals, so talking into a camera sure took me out of my comfort zone. But it was a good chance to tell people about our innovative farming work and practices," says Dene Noonan, Manager Farm Business & Operations, one of five council employees interviewed by New Zealand’s longest-running and most iconic TV show.

With about 400 cattle and 5500 ewes, council farms nearly 1500 hectares of coastal pastures across 19 regional parks, making us one of the biggest urban farmers in the region.

But what attracted Country Calendar to our parks, Dene says, was our holistic approach to farm management that balances being a sustainable green space, protected natural environment, recreational park for Aucklanders and profitable farm that reduces our rates burden.

See the TV segment here:

A Country Calendar crew spent five days in August filming farming operations and interviewing staff. Two days were spent at Ambury Regional Park while sheep were being drenched and vaccinated and schoolchildren fed lambs as part of an educational programme.

“It was a magical weather day,” says Janine Nillesen, a park ranger at Ambury who was interviewed for the show. “The farm looked superb and the bird islands were full of waders. But I was really nervous. Everyone I spoke to said how much they love that programme.”

The Country Calendar crew also spent three days at Te Rau Puriri Regional Park at South Head, where the focus was on our Hereford breeding programme, animal health projects, innovative farming technology and recreational pursuits.

For Garry Hewson, Farming Operations Manager, many viewers will be surprised at the work we’re doing on our farms. “I’m proud of what we’re doing. We’re proving that farming can be very green and conservation-focused while returning a profit. It’s the future direction of New Zealand farming.”

Two other park rangers were interviewed for the show: Phil Evans and Laura Wallis.

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