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1 February 2024
Wool Street Journal

Large charitable Hawke’s Bay farming enterprise partners with PGG Wrightson

A charitable trust that has recently modernised and is one of the largest farming entities in Hawke’s Bay has elected to undertake all its wool business through PGG Wrightson.

Established in 1977, the Joan Fernie Charitable Trust (JFCT) owns three substantial Hawke’s Bay rural properties: Chesterhope Station at Pakowhai, Moeangiangi Station at Putorino and Mangatapiri Station at Elsthorpe. Totalling more than 7200 hectares, the three farms carry approximately 65,000 stock units.

Hawke’s Bay farmer Mike Barham took over as the JFCT chair in 2023, and serves as a trustee alongside Hastings District Councillor Ana Apatu, prominent Hawke’s Bay lawyer Edward Bostock, and ANZ regional manager Marcus Bousfield. Mike says the trustees are determined to modernise every aspect of the charity and its farms.

“Although it was established 46 years ago, the trust has kept a low profile over the decades and up to now has been unknown to many people. 

“Joan Fernie died in 2007 aged 91. She was extremely generous, the last in the line of a frugal farming family that at one point was the second largest North Island landowner. They put everything into their farms. Now as trustees we intend to make the most of the legacy Joan and the Fernie family created. We will establish a higher profile for the trust and distribute a larger proportion of its profits to the community in the form of donations to appropriate organisations,” he says.

PGG Wrightson is playing its part in JFCT’s transformation.

“We have around 35,000 sheep producing approximately 140,000 kilograms of wool per annum. We sought proposals from a series of wool broking companies. As with everything else about our business, we want to ensure we are doing our best to maximise the value we are able to give back. Of the wool businesses we approached, PGG Wrightson’s proposal came out on top. What they offered servicing the three properties and formulating individual plans for the best ways to sell our clip won them our business. 

“We are fully committed to continuing to produce wool, and delighted that our enthusiasm for the product is matched by the skilled, professional, well-trained staff of PGG Wrightson Wool,” says Mike Barham.

Another important recent JFCT appointment is Danny Angland, who has just started in the new role of general manager of the trust’s farming operation. Danny’s position for the previous 17 years was manager of Kereru Station, beneath the Ruahine Ranges and also owned by a charitable trust, where he and wife Robyn won the title Hawke’s Bay Farmer of the Year in 2013.

“Danny has outstanding experience intensively managing a large-scale farming operation with clear focus and vision, and unrelenting attention to detail. He is ideally suited to the role of reviewing and upgrading all the farming systems on JFCT’s properties. 

“He has the task of carrying out a thorough analysis of our farming operations. Every system on all three farms will be assessed to identify where we can improve performance. Our objective as a board is to establish JFCT as an industry leader in our region, a flagship of all aspects of sustainable farming best practice,” says Mike Barham.

Also for review is the JFCT charitable distribution policy, though first the three farms need to complete their recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle.

“Chesterhope was one of the region’s worst hit farms, with two metres of water flowing across it. We lost 3000 sheep and many kilometres of fencing. Chesterhope’s repair bill is around $2 million, and the other two farms also need extensive restoration work.

“We expect that will take at least the next 18 months, during which time the trust will be unable to make charitable distributions. Once our properties are back to a good state of repair and profitability however, we will resume donating profits from the farms, and will seek applications from appropriate causes. 

“While we like to support local organisations, giving back to the districts where the stations operate, the board is able to distribute funds to many organisations benefiting the wider Hawke’s Bay, and beyond when the need arises,” he says.

Pictured at Chesterhope Station from left to right: Danny Angland, GM Agriculture for Joan Fernie Charitable Trust, Steve Fussell North Island Sales Manager PGW Wool and Mike Barham, Chairman of the JFCT Board.

PGG Wrightson Wool North Island sales manager Steve Fussell is managing the company’s relationship with the Joan Fernie Charitable Trust. 

“Chesterhope Station is a large scale property that straddles the Napier-Hastings Expressway. Predominantly flat land, with the repairs now under way it has the potential to become a magnificent showcase for the region’s agriculture. We were delighted to be invited to sit with the trust and discuss what PGG Wrightson can offer their business. We are auctioning wool from the trust’s three properties to the international trade under their original brands, Chesterhope, Moeangiangi and Mangatapiri. In addition we have contracted a couple of key lines of their wool direct to overseas manufacturers.

“We aim to continue to assist the trust’s decision making around shearing patterns, and to develop more contracts to help improve their operational budgets,” says Steve.

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