Haldon Station – History
In 1857, the Dutch pioneer brothers Frederick and Thomas Teschemaker, and their mother, who became well-known in the Mackenzie district for her kindness and good deeds, lay claim to a 20,000 acre run in the Mackenzie Country. They named the station Haldon, after the ‘Haldon Hills’ in Exmouth Devon, which is where the Teschemaker family had lived before their arrival in New Zealand. They built up the station to 57,000 acres and stocked it with 360 ewes, 40 wethers, and 100 head of cattle from Otaio station.
In 1868, the Teschemaker brothers sold Haldon to William Cuningham Smith, John Tennant Wallace and George James Dennistoun. These young men invested a large amount of time and effort in fencing the vast boundaries of Haldon and substantially increased stock numbers and added to the home buildings. Unfortunately, during the 1870s the rabbit plague increased to such proportions that it became one of the contributing factors for their decision to sell the property ten years after their purchase.
In 1878, when William Pringle bought Haldon, it was running about 25,000 sheep. Pringle sold the Station in 1888 to James Henry Preston. Preston ended up marrying Pringle’s daughter Margaret, who used to humorously say, ‘I was thrown in with the sale.’
Preston substantially improved Haldon’s carrying capacity, as well as the overall stock quality. He also built fences, and a new homestead of stone, quarried from the station.
In 1895 Preston sold Haldon to Archibald Morton who got into financial difficulties and sold it back to Preston in 1904. Preston’s wife Margaret bought Black Forest and the two stations were then run together.
In 1917, Haldon and Black Forest were sold to Simon McKenzie who sold the property to James Innes in 1919. James (senior) retired in 1963 and Haldon, which by that time had increased to 80,000 acres, was divided between James two sons Ian and Allen. Allen took over Black Forest station, which also at that time included the Stony Block. Ian took over the 16.635 acre (6720 ha) Haldon Canterbury University Lease and the 19,050 acres (7700 ha) that made up the Kirkliston pastoral crown lease. The southern boundary extends from Hakataramea station to Waitangi station and Black Forest. The Northern boundary is Grays Hills station. Ian ran 7,000 merinos and cultivated 400 acres of the station, which was planted in lucerne. Ian Innes retired in the 1970s and his son James took over the daily running of the station. James (jnr), like his father and grandfather, was a well-known figure in South Canterbury and with his entrepreneurial aptitude he established and implemented many unique and exceptional farming practices.
James advanced initiatives in genetic development and land improvement and this substantially contributed to Haldon’s current position of strength. The development of 460 hectares of border-dike irrigation was a game-changer for the station, although at the time James was ridiculed by neighbouring farmers for what they mistakenly saw as James developing Crown Land. That land became the life-blood of Haldon, ultimately giving security of feed throughout the hot summer climate. This part of the station is also now freehold.
James had a very strong interest in genetic improvement, which led him and other like-minded progressive farmers, to set up a genetic breeding program for Hereford cattle called Genepool, the aim of which is to concentrate the top blood strains of a larger group of Hereford cattle into one animal pool. The intensive record-keeping, stock profiling, and culling of inadequate animals, underpins the development of all Haldon stock, including our sheep and deer, and allows us to continually improve on our stock quality and productivity. Most importantly, these tools enable us to promote our phenomenal success in all areas of stock performance and land development.
Unfortunately, through a mixture of unforeseen international 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 the station.
In 1991, Hans and Jenny Klisser purchased Haldon. Originally from Holland, Hans and Jenny had spent 40 years in Auckland building one of New Zealand’s most successful businesses in the baking industry. They had sold their business and were actively looking for their next opportunity when they were introduced to Haldon. It was love at first sight for the Klisser family.
Since the Klissers purchased Haldon it has undergone some startling changes and been further improved into what it is today –– a thriving enterprise with top quality merinos, red deer, Hereford, and more recently, Black Angus cattle.
Many of the practices which were initiated by James Innes have been built upon and fine-tuned. Additional developments have been implemented by the current manager, Paddy Boyd, who with his wife Barbara, has been at Haldon for 38 years. Paddy has a well-deserved reputation as an outstanding farmer. Together with the Klissers and their renowned business acumen they have ensured Haldon has gone from strength-to-strength as the run 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 Stony Block from Black Forest station, with plans to increase stock units to 30,000 consisting of Merino and half-breed sheep, Hereford and Angus cattle and Red deer. Haldon has improved lowland pastures through irrigation, and planted lucerne paddocks on developed hill country and very extensively high country-farmed in the traditional, seasonal manner.
Haldon now consists of three large blocks: the 6640ha freehold home block, which contains 974ha of irrigation, plus 5,451 ha of freehold back country called the Kirkliston or Back Hut Block, which is several kilometres away, is much higher and less developed. The 7,740 ha in the Stony Block was purchased from Black Forest in 2009 and is going through the process of Tenure Review. The Stony Block lies between the two previous Haldon blocks, so the property is now unified in three main titles, in combination with a few smaller ones. Kirkliston has completed Tenure Review and is now freehold.
In 1991, after 70 years (since the 1900s) under the Innes family, Haldon was bought by Auckland-based businesspeople, Hans and Jenny Klisser. By 2020, it had been run by Paddy Boyd, as manager of Haldon for the former owner James Innes, and the Klissers, for 38 years.
Annual rainfall is only 300 to 400mm and the temperature can vary from as low as minus 20°C in winter to 40°C in summer. 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 was established, and the border-dyke irrigation block developed. This was all developed when Haldon’s home block was still subject to a University of Canterbury tenure lease. At the time, it was thought to be bad business judgment to make costly improvements to leasehold properties.
These ventures introduced diversification away from traditional merinos, both ewes and wethers, which were the foundation of Mackenzie country farming. Merino wool suffered from regular price collapses until Merino New Zealand was established in the early 1990s. Merinos suffered from low lambing percentages and their lambs were not considered suitable for fattening or prime lamb slaughter. In the mid-1980s, Haldon sold big lines of annual draft merino ewes for prices as low as $3 per head at the annual Tekapo sale. One year James Innes quit the sale in disgust at the low prices received for his surplus stock. Even then he made a statement, as he lifted his helicopter from the car park alongside the yards in a cloud of dust and noise, silencing the auctioneers. Luckily, the deer and the cattle were more profitable.
The stock market collapse of 1987, which followed the deregulation of agricultural support and diversification incentives in the 1980s, caught James Innes with too much debt and he was forced to sell. After their sale of a very successful family bread business to Goodman Fielder in 1990, the Klissers were encouraged by their accountant to consider Haldon as an investment. After seeing the station they had no desire to look further and immediately purchased the run from the receivers.
Many of the practices initiated by James Innes have been built upon and finely-tuned by Paddy Boyd, backed by the Klisser business acumen –– a formidable combination. Other new developments have also een 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 the fragile high country. Income exclusively from the high country areas is insufficient to pay for its maintenance.
The recently expanded Haldon station runs 8,500 Merino and half-breed ewes, and 3000 ewe hoggets and rams, with plans to increase the flock to 10,000 ewes. All of the 6,500 merinos are in the range of 16.8 to 17.8 micron, clipping an average of 5kg per head annually. The 2,000 half-breed ewes (merino x border leicester) are mated to a terminal sire Suffolk to produce fast-growing lambs.
The merino ewes are Merryville bloodlines for soft-handling superfine wool and flock fertility, which is consistently over 100% lambing. 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 the 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 half-breed is higher, with 27.5 micron diameter.
Haldon has 1,000 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 and proven Hereford bulls suitable for commercial use.
Haldon, with 15 other bigger South Island farms representing about 30,000 Hereford cows, engaged their most experienced representatives to travel the country selecting top stud bulls to artificially-inseminate (AI) their cows. The top cows from the farms of 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 increasing demand for the bulls, so an on-farm sale has been held at Haldon since the early 1980s.
Genepool has built up a wealth of recorded data on the growth and functional characteristics of 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 animal’s genetic potential. This is an extraordinarily useful tool for farmers who are looking for some security of their stock purchases. In this way, they are able to purchase proven performers.
All male progeny are kept as bulls and the best are offered at yearling bulls to dairy farmers, then 35-40 are kept for the annual two-year-old Haldon Hereford and Angus bull sale in May. Calving is in October and mating in December. Calving results are around 95%. Everything is recorded. Surplus heifers are marketed at 18 – 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 bull breeding purposes and for controlling excess growth.
Haldon has 5,000 red hinds and 600 velvet and sire stags. In recent years, they have provided around 50% of Haldon’s gross farm income. Around 2,000ha of the station property is deer fenced, including 200ha of lucerne and 300ha which is under irrigation. Deer fencing is being extended on hill blocks to enable briar control to occur with deer browsing.
As one of the industry’s original pioneers of deer farming, Haldon has always 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 permitted 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 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 is finished in excess of 60kgs on the improved ryegrass under centre-pivot irrigation at growth rates of up to 300g/day.
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 the 2006 Deer Industry New Zealand Environmental Award, for Excellence and Innovation in a Demanding Environment. Paddy serves on deer industry committees and is the Mackenzie/Omarama representative on the Canterbury TB-Free regional committee.