The Wairarapa Chamber of Commerce, supporting the local business community

Agriculture, Farming & Forestry

Despite the growth of tourism, wine-making and of manufacturing and service industries in the Wairarapa in recent years, agriculture is still the region's major source of income and employment.

The Stations along the eastern hill country which were noted for their fine wool in earlier years, have given up large areas to forestry, and in doing so have overcome the erosion problems that had developed in recent years. Sheep Farmers on the better country of the valley have adopted more intensive farming systems or moved into alternatives such as deer or ostrich farming.

Dairy Farmers have seen enormous changes in their industry in recent years, both on the farm and at the milk processing and international marketing level. To meet pressure of increasing costs, they have increased herd numbers substantially in the past few years so that today the average herd in the Wairarapa numbers 387 cows which is slightly above the national average.

Some of the gravelly land along the central river system is now being taken up by grape vines and today around all the five towns of the Wairarapa, numerous small-holdings are to be seen. These lifestyle blocks, as they are known, range in size from a hectare or two within urban boundaries, up to 20 hectares further out.

All the various farming sectors are serviced by a number of firms providing a full product range and consultants expert in all aspects of modern farm management. A number of veterinarians are available and in recent years several saddlery and blacksmith enterprises have been established to cope with the growing number of horses on small-holdings.

Over 54,000 hectares or five percent of Wairarapa’s total land area is planted in forestry. Pinus Radiata, a fast growing, medium density softwood with a reputation for versatility & reliability accounts for the vast majority of plantings. The total supply of wood is expected to increase from 800,000 cubic metres per annum to 3 million in 2022.

Opportunities to establish forestry and wood processing operations in Wairarapa ranges are growing timber to high value, end process of wood. This could range from saw mills and the sale of green-sawn lumber, to processed and treated timber. Adding value to semi-processed timber by creating high-volume componentry or furniture items will also provide opportunity.

Japanese forestry and wood processing company, Jaken New Zealand Ltd's (JNL) significant presence in Wairarapa has resulted in a critical main support business such as log transport & saw doctors being available.

In addition, international port services are close at hand through CentrePort in Wellington with direct rail links with Wairarapa.

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