Haldon Station - History

In the late 1850’s the Dutch pioneer Thomas Teschmaker along with his brother and mother, a women later renowned in the Mackenzie district for her kindness and good deeds, first lay claim to a 20 000 acre Run they named Haldon, after the ‘Haldon Hills’ in Exmouth Devon, which is where the Teschmakers had last lived before coming to New Zealand. They built up the Run to 57 000 acres and stocked it with 360 ewes 40 wethers and 100 head of cattle from Otaio station.

In 1868 the Teschmakers sold Haldon to William Cunningham Smith, John Tennant Wallace and George James Denarstoun. Unfortunately during their ownership the rabbit plague grew to such a proportion that it became one of the contributing factors for them to decide to sell the property in 1878 to William Pringle.

When Pringle bought Haldon it was running about 25 000 sheep. Pringle sold the Station in 1888 to James Henry Preston. Preston ended up marrying Pringles daughter Margaret, who is noted in the history books for humorously telling that she was thrown in with the sale!

Preston improved Haldon’s carrying capacity immensely, as well as improving overall stock quality he built many new fences over the station and built a new homestead out of stone quarried from near by Mt Maggie.

In 1895 Preston sold Haldon to Archibald Morton who after getting into financial difficulties sold it back to Preston in 1904. His wife Margaret bought Black Forest and the two stations were then run together.

In 1917 Haldon and Black Forest were then sold to Simon McKenzie who in 1919 sold the property to James Innes. James (senior) retired in 1963 and the then 80 000 acre property was divided between James two sons Ian and Allen. Ian took over the 16.635 Acre (6720 ha) Haldon Canterbury University lease and the 19,050 acre (7700 ha) Kirkliston pastoral crown lease. The southern boundary extends from Hakataramea Station to Waitangi Station, Waitaki valley, Black forest and the Northern boundary is Grays hills station.

Ian ran a flock of 7 000 merino sheep and cultivated 400 acres of the station which were planted with Lucerne.

In the 1970’s Ian Innes retired and his son James took over the day to day running of the Station. James (jnr) like his father and Grandfather before him was a well known figure in South Canterbury High country farming and with his own entrepreneurial aptitude established and implemented many unique yet exceptional farming practices.
Jame's advanced initiatives in both genetic development and land improvement have contributed greatly to Haldon’s current position of strength. In particular the development of 460 hectares of Borderdike irrigation which James was ridiculed by neighboring farmers for what they mistakenly saw as him as developing Crown Land. That land has become the life blood of Haldon station, ultimately giving us summer feed security. (In addition this piece of land has subsequently become freeholded by the Station)

Secondly with James intense interest in Genetic improvements, he was to set up with a group of other like minded progressive farmers a genetic breeding program for the Hereford cattle called Genepool, whose aim is to concentrate the top blood strains of a larger group of Hereford cattle into one pool of animals. The intensive record keeping and stock profiling and culling of inadequate animals underpins the development of all Haldon Stock including our sheep and deer, allowing us to continually improve on our stock quality and productivity. Most importantly these tools enable us to boast of our phenomenal success in all areas of stock performance and land development.

Unfortunately however through a mixture of unforeseen world wide financial issues and the deregulation of the New Zealand agricultural industry by the government of the time, James was caught out carrying too much debt and was forced to sell Haldon.

In 1991 Hans and Jenny Klisser originally from Holland but much more recently Auckland, New Zealand where they had spent the last 40 years building one of New Zealand’s most successful businesses in the Baking industry had recently sold their business and were looking for their next opportunity. When they were introduced to Haldon Station it was love at first sight for the Klisser family.

Since the Klissers bought the Station, Haldon has undergone some startling changes and has been further improved into what it is today; a thriving enterprise now boasting top quality merinos, red deer and Hereford and more recently Black Angus Cattle.

Many of the practices which were initiated by James Innes have been built upon and fined-tuned and other new developments have been implemented by the current Manager Paddy Boyd who has been at Haldon for 28 years with his wife Barbara and has a phenomenal reputation as an outstanding farmer. Together with the Klissers and their renowned business acumen they have together built Haldon Station from strength-to-strength as the station continues its drive for excellence.

November 19, 2011

Haldon station is an iconic Mackenzie country property on the western shore of Lake Benmore which has recently been extended by half its size from 14,000ha to 22,000ha through the addition of Stoney Block from Black Forest station, with plans to increase stock units to 30,000 consisting if Merino and halfbred sheep, Hereford and Angus cattle and Red deer. Haldon has improved lowland pastures under irrigation, lucerne paddocks on developed hill country and very extensive high country farmed in the traditional, seasonal manner.

Haldon now consists of three large blocks: the 6640ha freehold home block, which contains 580ha of irrigation, a mix of 460ha border-dyke and 120ha under centre-pivot booms; plus 7622ha of leasehold back country called the Kirkliston or Back Hut Block, which is several kilometers away and much higher and less developed; and now 7740ha in the Stoney Block which was leasehold purchased from Black Forest in 2009. The Stoney Block lies between the two previous Haldon blocks, so now the property is unified in three main titles, with a few smaller ones. Stoney Block and Kirkliston are going through tenure review.

In 1991, after 70 years (since the 1900s) under the Innes family, Haldon was bought by Auckland-based businesspeople, Hans and Jenny Klisser. It has been run by Paddy Boyd as manager for 30 years, for both the Klissers and former owner James Innes.

Annual rainfall is only 300mm to 400mm and the temperature can vary from 40deg in the summer to minus 20deg in winter. Haldon has been a progressive high country station since the ownership of Ian (father) and James Innes (son) in the 1970s, when lucerne was first sown, the Genepool Hereford group breeding scheme founded, one of the first large deer herds established and the border-dyke irrigation block developed, all while Haldon’s home block was still subject to University of Canterbury lease tenure. At that time it was thought to be bad business judgment to make costly improvements to leasehold properties.

These ventures introduced diversification away from traditional Merino sheep, both ewes and wethers, which were the foundation of Mackenzie country farming. Merino wool suffered from regular price collapses up until Merino New Zealand was established in the early 1990s. Merinos had low lambing percentages and their lambs were not considered suitable for fattening and prime lamb slaughter. In the mid-1980s Haldon sold big lines of annual draft Merino ewes for prices as low as $3/head at the annual Tekapo sale. One year James Innes quit the sale in disgust at the low prices for his surplus stock, lifting his helicopter from a car park alongside the yards in a cloud of dust and noise, silencing the auctioneers. The deer and the cattle were more profitable, however.

The stock market collapse of 1987, which followed the deregulation of agricultural supports and diversification incentives in the 1980s, caught James Innes with too much debt and he was forced to sell up. The Klissers sold a very successful family bread business (which made Vogels bread in Auckland) to Goodman Fielder in 1990 and were encouraged by their accountant to consider Haldon as an investment, purchasing from the receivers.

Many of the practices, which were initiated by James Innes, have been built upon and fine-tuned by Paddy Boyd, backed by the Klisser business acumen. As well, other new developments have been instigated. With the combined result of irrigation, lucerne and lowland country, Haldon now aims to finish all sheep, cattle and deer progeny for slaughter. Paddy says it is a necessity to have a balance of high country as well as improved and irrigated country to be able to earn farm income to pay for the sustainable management of the whole property, particularly weed and pest control on fragile high country. Otherwise the income from high country will not pay for its maintenance.

The recently expanded Haldon station runs 8500 Merino and Halfbred ewes, and 3000 ewe hoggets and rams, with plans to increase the flock to 10,000 ewes. All the 6500 Merinos are in the range of 16.8 to 17.8 micron, clipping an average of 5kg/head annually. The 2000 Halfbred ewes (Merino x Border Leicester) are mated to a terminal sire Suffolk to produce quick-growing lambs.

The Merino ewes are Merryville bloodlines for soft-handling superfine wool and flock fertility, which is over 100% lambing consistently. Ewes are mated in May and lamb in October, after annual shearing in September. Lambs are weaned in February. All sheep are run on the high blocks, progressively getting closer to the home base for shearing. Wool is sold by auction through New Zealand Merino, at Christchurch sale by preference, so that direct feedback can be obtained from exporters and their clients. The Merino wool yield is around 70% and the Halfbred is higher, with 27.5 micron diameter.

Haldon has 1000 beef cattle, with 400 Hereford cows in the Genepool Hereford programme and the remaining 100 Angus cows, plus replacements and bulls of both breeds. Genepool was begun in 1971 as a way of sourcing top quality proven Hereford bulls suitable for commercial use. Haldon station with 15 other bigger South Island farms representing about 30,000 Hereford cows went around NZ selecting top stud bulls to AI their cows. The top cows from the initial 15 members were selected to run together at Haldon, to give the animals the strongest environmental challenges. Eventually Haldon began to breed its own bulls initially just to supply the needs of the other Genepool members, but as time went on there was more and more demand for the bulls, so an on farm sale has now been held since the early 1980s. Bull prices are in the range of $3000 to $5000.

Genepool has built up a wealth of recorded data on growth and functional characteristics on many thousands of cattle and has linked this data to a computer program that can assimilate this information and produce accurate predictions of a given animals genetic potential, an extraordinarily useful tool for farmers who are looking for some security to purchase proven performers.

All male progeny are kept as bulls and the best offered at yearling bulls to dairy farmers, then 35-40 kept for the annual two-year-old Haldon Hereford and Angus bull sale in May. Calving is in October and mating in December and calving results are around 95%. Everything is recorded. Surplus heifers are marketed at 18 to 20 months, before their second winter, and have averaged 240kg CW, while surplus bulls kill out over 300kgs CW.

Cattle are the minor livestock species on Haldon, kept now for the bull breeding purpose and for controlling excess growth.

Haldon has 3000 Red hinds and 450 velvet and sire stags. In recent years they have provided around 50% of Haldon’s gross farm income. Around 2000ha of the station property is deer fenced, including 200ha of Lucerne and 300ha under irrigation. Deer fencing is being extended on hill blocks to enable briar control with deer browsing.

As one of the industry’s original pioneers of deer farming, Haldon Station has from the beginning endeavoured to breed genetically superior high performing Red deer, producing top quality venison and velvet. The initial herd came from live capture and since that era the genetics have improved considerably with the establishment of an on-farm breeding program with the selection of only top performing animals to enter the breeding program in order to create an elite breeding herd.

Haldon deer are renowned and bred for their quiet temperament, quality body weights and impressive velvet yields.

The whole herd is deliberately kept at maximum six years of age, by replacing up to 25% of hinds every year. This is to avoid aged hinds going to the works. All non-replacement stock are finished in excess of 60kgs on the improved ryegrass under centre-pivot irrigation at growth rates up to 300g/day.

Haldon cuts 2500-3000kg of velvet annually, currently selling about $100/kg.

Water for irrigation is taken at permitted maximum of 280lt/sec from Stoney Creek through a race system to border-dyked paddocks, which are flood-irrigated by self-operating gates. The excess water run-off is collected in settling ponds, which also drain surrounding country after heavy rains. Any sedimentation settles and the riparian plantings help prevent discharge of excess nitrogen and phosphorus into waterways, and then Lake Benmore. Water collected in the ponds is used for further centre-pivot irrigation, which has turned rabbit-infested wasteland into productive pastures, with trees for shade and shelter. The recent irrigation development has been with 330m moveable pivot. Haldon has spent on riparian fencing, shingle race-beds and riparian planting to trap sediment and nutrient run-off. Further downstream irrigation is possible using the excess water from the BD system, while still staying under 280lt/sec water take from Stoney Creek.

The main weeds are briar (controlled by deer grazing) wildling pines (requiring annual control) matagouri (a native thorny shrub providing shelter for livestock on high country) and the invasive flatweed hieracium (controlled by direct drilling of pasture and fertilizer). The main pests are rabbits, wallabies and ferrets.

Paddy and Barbara Boyd, of Haldon station, won the Canterbury Farm Environment Awards supreme award in 2005 for a very strong performance in all areas of profitable and sustainable land management. Judging co-ordinator Doug Archbold said the Boyds had shown an outstanding grasp of the complex skills required to run an operation of that size. “Their ability to implement systems to protect and improve soil and water values, manage weeds and pests whilst producing a healthy profit in such a fragile environment is simply outstanding.”

Paddy Boyd was also awarded the prestigious 2014 Deer Farmer of the year.

Haldon also won Deer Industry New Zealand Environmental Award 2006 for Excellence and Innovation in a Demanding Environment. Paddy serves on deer industry committees and is the Mackenzie/Omarama representative on the Canterbury TBFree regional committee.