25 Jan 2019

Life at Isolation Station

From Country Life, 9:22 pm on 25 January 2019
Noel Moleta

Noel Moleta Photo: RNZ/Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Noel Moleta was brought up on D'Urville Island in the Marlborough Sounds and has been farming sheep on an isolated property at nearby Titirangi Bay for four decades.

Noel's windswept property has about 1,100 hectares of farmable land. It's home to about 4,000 Wiltshire sheep that shed their wool naturally in spring.

"We've been breeding Wiltshires for about 12 years and it coincides with going organic. We had Romneys prior to that, but we were trying to get away from drenching and issues with flystrike. With organics you don't want to have to deal with things like that," he says.

Wiltshire sheep

Wiltshire sheep Photo: RNZ/Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Because of the high cost of non-chemical fertiliser and not getting a premium for his organic lambs at the meatworks, Noel is now reluctantly considering switching back to conventional farming.

"I know that some of our family don't want to do walk from the organics because it's something we've worked hard to get, so it's a shame... but we are business people and we've got a big mortgage with the other business that's being developed so we can't just throw money away, can we?"

The Moleta family also owns a local mussel farm and is in the final stages of planting 32 hectares of hops in Tapewera.