Our Story

Modern History

During the Great Depression of the 1920s and 30s, the Government acquired the Eyrewell block, alongside other North Canterbury blocks and established forest plantings. This provided jobs, a use for the land and a wood resource for the future.

On 1 August 1975, extremely strong north-westerly winds created havoc in the four major state forests of Eyrewell, Ashley, Balmoral and Hanmer. Almost all the trees in the Eyrewell forest, on the north bank of the Waimakariri River, were blown over at the roots. Most of the trees were replanted and remained Crown-owned until the passing of the Crown Forest Assets Act 1989, which allowed the sale of state-owned forests.

The total sale of state-owned forests in 1990 grossed over one billion dollars. After the sale of the forest, the state still owned the land beneath the forest.

Following the Ngāi Tahu Settlement in 1998, the tribe were allowed to purchase Crown assets from a defined pool. Ngāi Tahu chose to buy Crown Forestry License land throughout the South Island. In 2000 Ngāi Tahu Property purchased the Eyrewell Forest and as forestry licenses have expired, Ngāi Tahu Property has converted the land to pasture.

  • 2000

    The Eyrewell Forest was purchased at market value by Ngāi Tahu Property. As the forestry licenses expire, Ngāi Tahu Property converts the land to pasture.

  • 2009

    The Manawhenua Working Party was formed to provide input into the farming model.

  • 2010

    Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu (Ngāi Tahu tribal council) approved investment in three trial dairy farms.

  • 2011

    Consultation commenced with Lincoln University for best-practice farming. A group of farming and best-practice advisors was formed to provide input into the farming model.

  • 2012-2013

    Ngāi Tahu Property established farming values and sustainable farming protocols.

    Ngāi Tahu Property developed three trial dairy farms and invested in best-practice technology.

    Ngāi Tahu Property started farming the three trial dairy farms.

  • April 2013

    Lincoln University, Te Tapuae o Rehua and Ngāi Tahu Property launched Whenua Kura, an initiative focused on supporting more local Māori into agriculture.

  • September 2013

    Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu considered the operation of the three trial dairy farms at Eyrewell. They reviewed the feedback from Ngāi Tahu Farming and the Mana Whenua Working Party about the workings of those farms and whether they met the cultural, environmental and operational expectations. In line with the recommendation of the Mana Whenua Working Party, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu agreed that the dairying operations at Eyrewell should advance to the next stage.