Wed, May 17, 2023 5:00 AM

100 years Farming at Rai




Brent Morrison, a third generation Dairy Farmer at Rimu Gulley, Rai Valley is taking a step back from full-time farming, and his sons Hamish and Justin are leading the farm. “Our family celebrated one hundred years on the original property in 2024,” Brent says.

Brents grandfather, Daniel (Billy) Morrison, purchased the original property in 1924.

In 1977 Brent married Caralyn and they set about creating equity in the farm and purchasing land. By 1980 they began share-milking and purchased a block next to Alfred stream, raising Friesian bull calves for extra income. In 1981 they bought another block in Rimu Gully enabling them to buy and milk an additional hundred cows.

In 1999 they purchased a 34ha block next to the showgrounds. It was the old Brownlee mill site and set about developing it.

“We removed a ton of glass from the site -the remains of the single men’s life living in huts during the mill years. We still have a box of interesting old bottles,” Brent smiles.

In 2002 they bought Rose Cottage and converted the Alfred Stream block into a 250-cow unit, employing managers.

“It was time to enjoy life a bit more and travel a bit,” chuckles Brent.

By 2013 Brent undertook the task of the major development of the Ronga and Healy block at Kokorua. In 2014 the couple received a life changing diagnosis, Caralyn had a terminal cancer, she eventually passed away in 2016 which was a huge blow to the whole family.

“Pivotal to getting through the loss, our son Hamish came home to help and has never left, Justin returned from Canterbury as well,” Brent explains.

Since then, with support from his family, and Hamish in particular, he’s been finding a new future.

The family is involved in ongoing succession planning and Brent has shown great vision. He has always been passionate about farm forestry, trialling alternative species and throughout his life has planted trees.  He now has time to support Hamish, who is share-milking with him.

“Forestry is a good asset for emission and succession planning,” Brent says “there’s a shift happening in farming regulations, and farmer retirement from dairy to dry stock have resulted in a reduction in the number of dairy farms in the Rai.  The best way to reduce farmer emissions is to reduce animal numbers, even though it will be the cause of hunger elsewhere in the world, allowing less efficient farmers to produce food with a bigger carbon footprint, exactly what the world does not need!”

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