Episode 21: Paikea's Land
Richard Scholefield at work. Photo by Katherine Edmond.
Pakarae farm and coastline. Photo by Katherine Edmond.
On the next episode, screening 3 July at 7pm on TV ONE:
Pakeha Richard Scholefield knows that some of the shareholders in the Maori farming block he manages north of Gisborne would rather have one of their own doing his job.
"And to be honest I agree with them, it would be good, but for the moment that calibre of person's not here," he says. "In the future they may be."
Hiring the best was top priority when the board that runs the Pakarae Whangara B5 Partnership employed Richard as farm manager four years ago. They wanted someone at the helm with energy, determination and a fresh approach.
Country Calendar looks at the results of amalgamating the two adjoining farms, which include the Whangara Marae, home to the Whale Rider movie.
Initially, Richard wasn't keen on working north of Gisborne - he says the East Coast has a 'bit of a reputation' - but he's happy to have been proved wrong. "The Coast is fantastic, people are really friendly and it's the total opposite of a lot of the things I originally thought."
Richard's also enjoying the job. He's brought in major changes such as new genetics, higher stock numbers, progressive systems for rotating and managing stock and a different staff structure.
He is well aware of how hard the new regime has been for long-serving staff.
"We have staff that have been doing things one way for 30 or 35 years and suddenly this young guy comes in and starts doing something totally different."
Richard believes the difference between an average manager and a good one is thinking and acting like an owner, and treating every dollar that's spent as if it's their own. He's also a hands-on manager who doesn't expect his staff to do anything he wouldn't do.
The challenges of the last four years are one reason Pakarae Whangara B5's win in the Ahuwuenua Maori Excellence in Farming Award last year was such a sweet victory.
Judges praised the partnership for its impressive financial performance and its outstanding governance and management.
But winning the Ahuwhenua Trophy is just a step along the way for Pakarae Whangara B5.
It's part-way through a multi-million dollar, five year development programme designed to raise productivity and ensure the farm's 1500 shareholders get a good return.
That, combined with his love of the East Coast, is giving Richard plenty of incentive to stick around and keep managing the block for a while longer.