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Tipu Whenua across NZ


Pongakawa on-farm agroforestry day highlights benefits of land use change

Decreasing a herd and retiring challenging land has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by a third and made farms in the Pongakawa catchment more profitable long-term, farmers and rural leaders heard at a recent field day.

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Lighthouse Farm project aiming to improve Waihī Estuary health

A project that is a shining beacon of better farming practices is to continue despite its funding coming to an end.

The Lighthouse Farm project, funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and led by community restoration group Wai Kōkopu, began in February 2021.

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Tool enables good data collection

PROMINENT RURAL consultant Alison Dewes has been using Overseer for more than a decade.

The Bay of Plenty rural leader used the tool for her master’s degree, in her private consultancy and as former head of environment for Pāmu (Landcorp). She also uses it on her own farm in the Rotorua Lakes Catchment and in providing farm system services for Wai Kōkopu, a commu-nity-led programme to revitalise the severely degraded Waihi Estuary at Maketū on the Bay of Plenty coast.

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Dairy Exporter Article: Diversifying on farm spreads risk

May 2023

Diversification has made all the difference for a Bay of Plenty dairy farming couple. John and Margaret Scrimgeour have always been thoughtful dairy farmers, trying to improve their land, the performance of their farm, and the welfare of their animals.

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A better, cheaper way to plant natives takes root

January 2023

Alison Dewes, John Burke, Stef Kincheff and Bronwyn Douglas with the help of our videographers have developed a resource detailing the process of low cost establishment of ngahere on farmland. This method, if done well has the potential to save Aotearoa $20 Bn if the conventional method ($30K per ha for native establishment) can be reduced to below $10K per Ha to establish natives on over a million hectares of vulnerable, steep, erodible land that is presently in pastoral use.

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Better water management needed, not more extraction, expert tells Environment Court

Jun 28 2022

There’s plenty of water consented for Tākaka farmers, they don’t need more from Te Waikoropupū Springs’s aquifer, they need better management.

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Local farmers offered free climate change help

Sun Live - Thursday 26 May, 2022

Farmers and growers surrounding the degraded Waihī Estuary are being urged to seek free support and financial help from local environmental group Wai Kōkopu to develop a plan to reduce their carbon footprint.

Read More>

Retiring Farmland into Ngahere

9 June 2022

When less productive farmland is ‘retired' into ngahere (bush or forest) there can be positive impacts on water quality, GHG emissions, farm management and profitability. This project builds on 10 years of results from a Primary Growth Partnership that retired over 400ha of marginal land into manuka plantations for honey, then applied that knowledge to broader land retirement into mixed natives on steep erosion-prone slopes, riparian margins, and critical source areas. This work identified potential savings of more than 50% of the current cost to establish native plantations, by replicating the natural reversion process. This project will create short videos and graphics sharing best-practice methods for low-cost, broad-scale land retirement into ngahere, covering important factors including: weed and pest control before planting, mix of forestry-grade coloniser species, planting density for various tree species, soil biome, and establishment timelines.

  • Our Land and Water funding: $130,000
  • Key contact: Alison Dewes, Tipu Whenua

Read more >


Te Waihi estuary clean up ideas sought

Monday 10 May, 2021

The group leading the charge to clean up Te Waihi estuary in the Bay of Plenty will be hosting a farm advisory meeting that will provide a forum for discussion and ideas on how to work together to revitalise the catchment.

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Te Waihī estuary clean-up group says working with farmers is vital

21 May 2021

A group leading the charge to clean up a Bay of Plenty estuary says working with farmers is vital to achieve its goals.

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Fonterra discharging nitrogen-heavy water onto 'ghost farms'

13 February 2021

Fonterra cleared the cows from 16 farms and is using the land to dispose of wastewater, which could be leaching a colourless, tasteless and odourless pollutant into private drinking water supplies.

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Calls for improved monitoring or total ban on live exports

A noted figure in animal welfare is calling for a total ban on the live export of cattle from this country.
temporary ban was put in place last week after the ship Gulf Livestock 1 sank in the East China Sea.

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Rural veterinarians empathetic but compromised over animal welfare reporting, vet says

A vet who is also a farmer has come out in support of claims rural vets sometimes turn a blind eye to animal welfare issues because they are scared of how their community will react to it.

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Alison Dewes Appointed a NEXT Foundation Fellow....

NEXT Fellows 2020
NEXT Foundation has launched an inaugural fellowship programme.The fellows, who will be supported for a year, will undertake research in two of NEXT’s investment focus areas, the first 1,000 days of life, and healthy rivers. All of the fellows NEXT selected are current and future leaders in challenging areas of education and the environment. They are keen to develop further their understanding of the concepts of strategic philanthropy and its potential to catalyse system change in these critical areas,” says NEXT environmental director Jan Hania.

“They are a diverse group and all show a common passion and ambition to make New Zealand a better place for our land and our people – so clearly align with NEXT’s vision to make our country better for future generations.”



Southland river transformed from 'a drain' to country's most improved

The annual awards were a celebration of rivers and catchments where major efforts have been made to improve river health. The award for most improved was based on trends seen in water quality over a decade.

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Alison Dewes appointed to the Health Research Council

Alison was appointed to the HRC board in 2019

River Voice award for Compelling Public Commentary 2019

NZ River Voice Award: The Reo mō te Awa (River Voice) Award for an individual who has the raised the profile of rivers through compelling public commentary went to Alison Dewes. See her story here:

More Action - Fewer Reports - We need change.

Farmers Weekly 29 Nov 2019:
New research proving dairy farms can cut nitrogen and gas losses is welcomed by rural consultants but they say farmers now need strong leadership to help make the required changes. While the recent AgResearch work is valid, a decade down the track there should have been more progress made on farms to have changes in place. “We did that Waikato study a decade ago and no action was taken from it. “It showed it was possible to drop stocking rates and make major reductions in nitrogen losses while also improving profit, yet that report disappeared.”Dewes is now working with Pamu applying some of her own modelling that aligns closely with the AgResearch findings. That includes lowering stocking rates on lighthouse farms owned by the state-owned enterprise in sensitive catchments or where more intensive winter grazing is practised.

Allen said the AgResearch outcome relies heavily on farmers getting a value-add premium of 26% for producing in a carbon-neutral manner.
“You would have to ask though to show me the money. If farmers can really get a 26% premium I think you will find they will be stepping up. But getting those premiums is not always that easy.” 
He is also concerned lowering stocking rates, a common to all the research, will affect farm management.
“This particular study is reducing cows from 2.9 a hectare to 2.4. If you now have half a cow a hectare less how do we maintain pasture quality through spring as effectively? 
“It is an old adage that it’s easier to run a farm that is overstocked than when it is understocked.”


You can’t be a kaitiaki from a distance

E-Tangata - Nov 11, 2018 
Mountains to Sea is a new book about New Zealand’s freshwater crisis. It is edited by Mike Joy, an outspoken freshwater scientist and policy researcher, who has brought together kōrero from 10 authors looking at what has gone wrong with te wai o Aotearoa, and how to fix it. Read more >


It might be time to think in different ways

Herald - 10 June 2017
According to one veterinarian, farmer and ecologist, agriculture needs a paradigm shift towards optimising wellbeing. Dr Alison Dewes, who spoke at the recent water symposium in Havelock North, said as health professionals there was a responsibility to safeguard people, animals and ecosystems for present and future generations. 
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Landcorp manager sings praise of environmnental reference group - 30 May 2017
Working with controversial environmentalists have been a 'great experience', Landcorp manager Phil McKenzie says. Now moving on after 36 years with Landscorp, McKenzie said the relationship with its forthright critics was a model that worked for New Zealand's largest farmer. 
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Pipi beds in Waiotahe under pressure

Native Affairs - 16 May 2017
Ancient pipi beds near Ōpōtiki have sustained locals for around a thousand years. But they've been poisoned by E.Coli five to twenty times the acceptable levels for eating.
Watch the video >

Farmers 'dead keen' to do the right thing....

Radio New Zealand - 10 May 2017
A group of farmers near Whakatāne are working with the regional council to try and improve water quality by changing the way they farm. Agribusiness consultant Ailson Dewes has gathered about 15 dairy farmers on behalf of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to understand more about how their farming systems can impact water quality. 
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Have we gone too far down one track?

Pure Advantage - 4 April 2017
It could well be the time for New Zealand to rethink our 150-year trajectory of milk growth.  
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New public health risk from cows as new leptospirosis strain discovered

NZ - 28 March 2017
A strain of leptospirosis not covered by the existing animal vaccine is re-emerging in high levels with the potential for human infection a huge public health concern. 
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Farming smart: moving from volume to value

Radio New Zealand - 15 March 2017

It has long been the mantra that New Zealand farming needs to move from volume to value.
And now with ecological limits being reached, and exceeded, as the result of intensive land use – in particular dairy farming – and often on unsuitable soils, are the economic and environmental arguments sufficiently compelling to change how we farm?
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Sustainable Solutions

VetScript - February 2017
The growing environmental regulatory pressure faced by farmers will create opportunities for veterinarians to offer advice that goes well beyond animal-related issues. Eloise Gibson reports on a new vet-led consultancy that is helping farmers to lift their sustainability game.
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Nitrogen Fund in Rotorua assists farmers in the catchment

NZ Herald - 14 December 2016
Rotorua farmer Alison Bentley has been awarded $50,000 to trial two new hazelnut varieties not currently grown commercially in New Zealand, which have a potentially much shorter lead time to production. 

"Ms Grayling said other work being funded included growing manuka for essential oils and honey production; developing a land development resource guide bringing together land-use information from a wide range of organisations and individuals; Tipu Whenua, a land-use advisory company that will coach several farm owners to reduce nitrogen loss by 20-40 per cent while improving business resilience and profit; and a video project featuring Rotorua farmers providing advice about good nutrient management practice."
Read more >

E coli test 'not thorough enough' for health

Radio NZ - 24 August 2016

E coli water tests don't pick up all the bugs from animals and some could be slipping through the cracks, a Waikato veterinarian and ecologist says.
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One Health in Action

VetScript - October 2016

RECENT EVENTS IN Havelock North are a wake-up call for New Zealand. The water contamination incident is merely the tip of the iceberg, highlighting the important role we veterinarians have at the intersection of animals, humans and the environment and also the many challenges we face as One Health professionals. We are all connected, and we all have a key role to play in the solution.
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Same Message, Different Sides

Farmers Weekly - October 2016
Moving from the world of small animal care to environmental care puts B+LNZ's new North Island environmental policy manager Corina Jordan firmly in the spotlight as the sector responds to regional environment plans.  
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A One Health water challenge in NZ...

The Listener - October 2016
Havelock North has had one of the largest outbreaks of water-borne disease in the developed world, which is raising red flags around the country. 
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Experts dispute river claims

AgriHQ 11 October 2016
Freshwater scientists, ecologists and iwi are disputing claims the Waikato River is in robust health with little benefit to come from the Healthy Rivers plan. Professor Jacqueline Rowarth told a group of farmers in Pukekohe that phosphorus levels in the river were good, nitrogen leaching was at normal levels and neither nitrogen nor phosphorus would kill them.  Rowarth also said the key indicators for Waikato water health were moving in the right direction.... But farm consultant and vet Dr Alison Dewes said the trend lines for the Waikato River reflected a continuing decline in quality and one taking decades to play out. 
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Healthy Rivers Plan not so healthy?

Farmers Weekly - 13 October 2016
Freshwater scientists, ecologists and iwi are disputing claims the Waikato River is in robust health with little benefit to come from the Healthy Rivers plan.
Read more >

Point of View

May 2016
Mark Leishman discusses with Alison about how Tipu Whenua can help farmers adapt to change.
Watch the video >

Effluent Issues Divide Experts

NZ Farmers Weekly - 11th April 2016
Critics of Canterbury groundwater mamangement are at an impasse with Federated Farmers and Irrigation New Zealand over the impact intensive livestock farming has in the region on human health.
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One Health Challenges to People....

NZ Farmers Weekly - 4 April 2016
Rural communities face public health risks from intensive dairying on the Canterbury plains, medical officer of health Dr Alistair Humphrey says. 
Read more >

Farmers need business certainty to plan ahead - 11 March 2016
Often contrasting messages are being delivered to dairy farmers on growth, climate change and nutrients by the Government, says leading agri-ecologist Alison Dewes. Pat Deavoll talks to Dewes and economist Peter Fraser, on the pitfalls of the dairy industry. 
Read more >

Landcorp looks at alternatives to dairy conversions - 7 March 2016
Environmental and financial pressures have forced Landcorp and Wairakei Estates owners to abandon contentious forest to dairy conversions. 
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Milk Tanks

Listener - March 2016
How has an industry that enriched the economy with "white gold" been dealt such a body blow by global milk prices? 
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Changes to dairy systems for valued returns

Sollus NZ - 29 February 2016
By 2025 New Zealand could have a dairy industry that is emitting 25% less green house gases, 40% fewer pathogens and nitrogen, and earning 60-100% more profit. It will be an industry that can pride itself on being the "farmers' market for the global village."
Read more >

Changes to dairy systems for valued returns

Scoop Business - February 2016
By 2025 New Zealand could have a dairy industry that is emitting 25% less green house gases, 40% fewer pathogens and nitrogen, and earning 60-100% more profit. It will be an industry that can pride itself on being the "farmers' market for the global village." 
Read more >


Landcorp forges accord with diverse group of thinkers

Stuff, 2015
Landcorp has formed a national group of five critics to address issues that were concerning the public. What a brave move by New Zealand's biggest farmer - this is called "mature and intelligent discussion"
I endorse Landcorp for doing this - it is the only way we will bridge the gap in NZ and move forward.
Read more >

Support for Landcorp

October 2015
Expert group supports Landcorp in putting environment first. 
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Learning to farm within limits

VetScript - August 2015

Farming systems consultant Alison Dewes believes veterinarians have an important role to play in helping farmers work within their environmental constraints. She is a fourth-generation farmer and second-generation veterinarian, helping design farm systems to keep clients ahead of changes that are starting to limit the way they operate.
Read more >

Alison Dewes - Named Finalist - Women of Influence - 2015

The finalists for the Women of Influence awards for 2015 have been announced.
Read more about the 2015 Women of influence Finalists >

Farm Systems Change - Dairy Farm Case Study - Butterworth Enterprises

MPI - 2015

A performance based system growing into the future .
Read more >

Handout National Supporters Day - Butterworth

Dairy Business of the Year National Supporters Event 2016
Read more>

A Farm Effluent System Update

Rural Delivery - Nov 2015

Rex Butterworth who farms in the Waikato has spent nearly $1 million investing in HerdHomes, where his cows spend part of the day under cover feeding.
In the past 3 decades the Butterworths have significantly changed their dairy effluent system 3 times and were recently staring at another change. They decided instead to trial partially housing the cows and haven’t looked back environmentally or economically. They invested heavily in new herd homes that have cut the volume of nitrogen leaching through the soil to less than half the average in the region.
Read more >


Rivers of Gold - The Listener

The Listener - May 2014
Recipe for prosperity: take flat land, skilled farmers, fertiliser and cows. Add cheap water. Fold in new tech­nology, lashings of debt and permissive environmental rules. Voila! In a decade or two you have a thriving district with next-to-no unemployment, a rising population and a rate of economic growth almost twice the national average.
Read more >

How do we farm within our ecological health limits? (Rotorua 2014)

Rotorua - Te Arawa Lakes - Farming Within Limits - Science Presentation 2014.
View presentation>>

Tipu Whenua Chats

A range of interviews over early 2016 sometimes stating confronting facts on agriculture, irrigation and debt. But if we fail to address the facts, how can we solve the problem.

Einstein: "If I had an hour to solve a problem - I would spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions".

9 February 2021

Fonterra cleared farms to dispose of factory wastewater

Listen >

10 May 2017

Something NZ could do smarter....

Listen >

26 April 2017

Midday Rural News

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24 April 2017

Water fools? Sacred pipi beds polluted?

Listen >

13 April 2017

Waterways report misses key concerns - consultant

Listen >

15 March 2017

Farming smart: moving from volume to value

Listen >

8 March 2017

Why is palm kernel use declining on farms?

Listen >

7 February 2017

Has diary reached its capacity?

Listen >

1 September 2016

Don't blame birds for bad water, minister told

Listen >

24 August 2016

E coli test 'not thorough enough' for health

Listen >

23 August 2016

Monitoring tool gives false sense of security - ecologist

Listen >

17 March 2016

How environmentally friendly are irrigation dams?

Listen >

17 March 2016

Rural News

Listen >

25 February 2016

Dairy industry's $38b debt problem

Listen >

25 February 2016

How long will the banks stick with dairy farmers?

Listen >

23 February 2016

Is it time to face farming facts?

Listen >

12 October 2015

Landcorp forms environmental advisory group

Listen >

12 July 2015

Insight for future financial stability

Listen >

29 May 2015

Struggling farms could go offshore - analyst

Listen >

29 May 2015

Warnings over dairy foreclosures

Listen >

14 May 2015

Scientists Speaking Out

Listen >

13 May 2015

Alison Dewes discussing her experience

Listen >

13 May 2015

RB warning on high dairy debt

Listen >

13 May 2015

Consultant says debt levels among farmers are a worry

Listen >

12 May 2015

Dairy warning comes too late - consultant

Listen >

16 April 2015

Has NZ lost its dairy production edge?

Listen >

31 March 2015

Can science fix the diary debate?

Listen >


Can we say what we really think in NZ?

Listen >

28 August 2014

Risks to water quality limits - report

Listen >

28 August 2014

Two major rivers set to breach new water quality bottom lines

Listen >

23 April 2014

Imported feed a risk committee hears

Listen >

17 April 2014

Concern over damn nitrogen restrictions

Listen >

7 January 2014

Outspoken: Dairy Farming

Listen >

6 December 2013

Land and water plan doesn't go far enough - critics

Listen >

12 October 2012

Tomorrow's Farms Today

Listen >

13 February 2013

Blind push for production brings
risk - consultant

Listen >

Tipu Whenua Videos

Rotorua Planting - Lower Nitrogen, Land Use Change

Great to trial a paper pot trial for native establishment on my block - We are looking at how we establish natives at a lower cost, faster, and more successfully, this trial will aim to have lower costs of establishment, to help farmers make change for good - easier.

A change of heart

This is a recent talk about the way we need to support farmers, understand the challenges, and look towards transformational change. Part of this is understanding the system we are running now, why it hasn't adapted with the times, and why, our farmers need support for transformation. First we need to admit the world is changing, second we need to understand that we have TOOLS for change, and lastly, we need to help farmers with great data and models, to understand scenarios for change. Our Tipuwhenua team, do exactly this.

Challenging Interface NZ Agriculture & Water

Sky - Country TV - Interview by Mark Leishman

Rural Delivery 2015 Rex Butterworth

The importance of farm analysis financially and environmentally

Milk and Money: Why we may not need need cows to make milk

Milk and Money: The True Cost of Dairy in Aotearoa is a six-part series exploring the dairy industry’s impact on the community, economy and environment of Aotearoa, and considering what a sustainable future for the industry could look like. 

Episode 6: Journalist Baz Macdonald speaks to vet and agricultural consultant Alison Dewes Watch now >


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