26 Feb 2016

A River Runs Through It

From Country Life, 9:32 pm on 26 February 2016
Jane and Peter Evans beside the Pareora River

Jane and Peter Evans beside the Pareora River Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Sustainable farm forestry and agricultural techniques, including the careful management of water resources are central to Peter and Jane Evans’ sheep and beef farming operation near Timaru. The Pareora River runs for six kilometres through their scenic 1,000 hectare property and most of it is now fenced off from stock.

Cosmo Kentish-Barnes visits the Evans' farm:

Peter’s grandfather Benjamin Edward Evans started planting willows along the river in 1910 to protect the river banks and many of those trees still remain to this day.  Peter’s father Wynne planted most of the trees along the gorge roadside and Peter and Jane have established a natural buffer zone of native trees and shrubs to absorb run-off and this planting is ongoing.

Every summer the Evans opens their farm to visitors. This year over 20 families camped in a paddock beside the river.

“The river plays a big part in our lives in more ways than one. There’s the social interaction with the campers, but we also have to deal with flooding which is disheartening when you plant lots of trees then get them all washed away,  or you get your land eroded… it’s pretty trying” Peter says.

Peter's great-grandfather Benjamin Hudson Evans bought 200 acres of land  between the Elworthy and Rhodes estates for 406 pounds shortly after arriving in New Zealand from Wales in 1875. The family added more land to the farm in 1915 with the purchase of Mt Misery.

Not long after taking over the running of the property, Peter and Jane purchased Mt Horrible in 1989. Much of it was infested with gorse so they decided to establish a pine plantation to control New Zealand's worst scrub weed.Twenty five years on the trees are thriving and in a few years time the forest is expected to provide a good return per hectare.

Adrian Mann playing the Alexander piano

Adrian Mann playing the world's longest piano that he built in a shed at Peter and Jane's farm. Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes