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The Big Dry

On the next episode screening 22nd June at 7pm on TV ONE

The Big Dry

Paul Constable had been a jockey, a farrier and a stunt rider on The Lord of the Rings films before coming home one day and telling his wife Tash he wanted to go farming.

Although they'd both grown up in families involved in the racing industry, neither Paul nor Tash had any experience with working dogs, sheep or cattle.

But that didn't deter them. "I like a challenge," says Paul and, although Tash loved her job as a teacher aide, she was happy to make a change.

"Paul ran his own business and we didn't see a lot of him. Farming is a much better lifestyle and we get to be together most of the time, which is great."

Paul proved to be a natural when it comes to stock management - a skill that's proving crucial in his current position managing Te Hoe Station on the banks of the Mohaka River in northern Hawke's Bay. 

The property was hit hard by the North Island autumn drought with grass in short supply and the creeks and streams that normally provide stock water drying up.

Buying in feed for Te Hoe's cattle and sheep cost the farm around $1,000 a day at the height of the drought and Paul spent hours every day transporting water from the river to troughs around the farm to keep the animals alive.

The tough conditions slowed the development project under way at the farm but Paul's determined to get it back on track as soon as possible.

It involves putting in a reliable water system, increasing stock numbers, fixing fences and looking for new ways to bring in money. One of those is tourism.

"We've got great countryside for horse trekking and walking and the Mohaka River provides plenty of opportunities for recreation," says Paul. "We've got the land, why not use it?"

Paul gets plenty of help around the farm from Tash who got into farm work after Paul came home one day and gave her a dog to train. The Constables' two children - Jivana, who is at boarding school, and Jay, who is studying engineering in Napier, also help out when they are home.

Paul and Tash encourage their kids to get involved in everything. "We don't wrap them in cotton wool," says Paul. "There's no harm in learning when you're young, with the right supervision of course."

The 1400 hectare farm is owned by Alastair and Nici Haliburton. It's been in Alastair's family for four generations.

He lives in Havelock North and works for rural services company Elders but brings his family out to Te Hoe as often as possible.

"We'd love to live here but, for the moment, from a financial point of view, that's not going to happen" Alistair says. 

"We're really lucky to have found people who are happy to manage the farm in what is a pretty socially remote area. On top of that, Paul and Tash have lots of great ideas about how to take the property forward."

To find out more about rafting on the Mohaka River, visit:

To find out more about the Hawke's Bay region, visit:

Richard Williams

Field sound
Don Paulin

Offline editor
Brent Whitwell

Online editor
Alex Wright

Sound mixer
Ian Leslie

Sound editor
Don Paulin

Vivienne Jeffs

Network executive
Jude Callen

Associate producer
Dan Henry

Production manager
Robyn Best

Katherine Edmond

Julian O'Brien