Tuapaka Farm , Pāmu Tuapeka

Tuapaka Farm is a sheep and beef hill country farm near Palmerston North run as two blocks – a flat and a hill unit.

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Wind turbines


  • To provide a facility for quality research, teaching and extension in sheep and beef farming.
  • To be managed as a profitable commercial sheep and beef farm.
  • To provide a link between the university and agribusiness.

Farm features

About the farm

In 1983, Tuapaka's 420 hectares were divided into two blocks so that better commercial use could be made of the farm:

  • a 111-hectare unit of predominantly flat ground, and
  • a hill unit of 365 hectares.

Initially following this subdivision it was decided to run bulls from weaners to 18 months on the smaller unit, with a sheep and bull beef system put into place on the larger unit.

Recently, management strategies have changed to better use the property and improve the farms ability to service research and teaching activities.

The property is subdivided into 85 paddocks which are made up of:

  • flats: 31 paddocks ranging from 1.3 to 5.2 ha
  • hill unit: 54 paddocks ranging from 1.2 to 12.8 ha.

Fences on both the flats and hill unit are conventional posts and battens with electric outriggers, plus some 3-wire permanent electric. A grass laneway system allows access to all paddocks on the flats.

Location and map

Fitzherbert East Road, 15km from Palmerston North.

800 Fitzherbert East Road, Aokautere 4471, New Zealand


476 hectares:

  • 111 hectares flat block
  • 365 hectares hill block

Effective Area: 359 hectares (99 hectares flat block, 260 hectares hill block).


100–360 metres above sea level.


Flat unit

Mostly flat with some rolling country.

Hill unit

Rolling to very steep hill country.

Noxious weeds

Gorse and California thistles.

Noxious animals

Possums and rabbits.


Flat block

Tokomaru Silt Loam and Ohakea Silt Loam (derived from wind-blown dust from riverbeds). The subsoil is compacted which causes the soil to be slow draining. Natural fertility is medium to high.

Hill block

Steepland soil related to Makara Steepland Soils derived from greywacke and slope deposits. Natural fertility is generally low to very low.

  • Hilly and Steepland soils related to Halcombe hill and steepland soils – derived from loess, unconsolidated sediments and slope deposits. Natural fertility is very low.
  • Shannon and Tuapaka series – derived from loess overlaying marine sands and have a naturally low fertility.
  • Korokoro series – derived from loess and slope deposits overlying greywacke, these soils are generally free draining and have a low natural fertility.


Climate data for Aokautere, the nearest Council monitor to the farm.

This table outlines climate information for Tuapaka Farm, month by month and annually.
January February March April May June July August September October November December Year
Average high C 21.0 22.0 20.0 17.0 15.0 13.0 12.0 13.0 14.0 16.0 17.0 19.0 16.6
Daily mean C 17.5 17.5 15.5 12.5 11.0 9.0 7.5 8.5 10.0 12.0 13.5 15.5 12.5
Average low C 13.0 13.0 11.0 8.0 7.0 5.0 3.0 4.0 6.0 8.0 10.0 12.0 7.5
Rainfall mm 59.8 42.4 78.0 67.6 81.1 106.6 62.7 96.0 75.4 84.2 81.6 74.9 910.0
Average rainy days 15 12 16 18 20 24 20 21 22 18 20 19 225

Tuapaka Farm experiences 1,100 mm annual rainfall, on average. Summer is mainly dry. Prevailing winds are westerlies and south easterlies.

Water supply

Water is sourced from a bore and it is pumped to reservoirs on the hills and gravity-fed to most paddocks.

Farm buildings

This table outlines the houses on the farm and their occupants.
Tuapaka homestead Stock Manager
Second house Shepherd General
Third house Empty

The homestead was extensively upgraded in 2018. The Shepherd General’s house is tired and is programmed for an upgrade. The third empty dwelling is beyond refurbishment.

Five-stand wool shed and covered yard complex with a 1,500-ewe capacity. Two sets of satellite yards. One main set of cattle yards (near the wool shed) with five main pens with concrete floor crush to race and weighing platform (electronic scales), head bail and spray dip. Another satellite set of yards near the south-western farm boundary.


Two permanent staff and casual staff as required.

Pastures and forestry

The flats are on a five year rotation of hybrid ryegrass/chicory/white clover species. For the hill unit, typical hill country pastures dominate consisting of browntop, crested dogstail with perennial ryegrass and white clover.


This table outlines the forestry blocks on the farm planted 1980-2015, including what species were planted and on how many hectares.
Stand Species Hectares Year planted
Tuapaka 01 Eucalypts 0.56 1980
Tuapaka 02 Pinus radiata 9.12 1993
Tuapaka 03 Pinus radiata 8.02 1998
Tuapaka 04 Cupressus macrocarpa 0.80 1998
Tuapaka 05 Pinus radiata 5.26 2000
Tuapaka 06 Eucalyptus fastigata 0.72 2000
Tuapaka 07 Pinus radiata 9.23 2002
Tuapaka 08 Pinus radiata 2.53 2005
Tuapaka 09 Pinus radiata 2.36 2005
Tuapaka 10 Pinus radiata 2.67 2007
Tuapaka 11 Pinus radiata 3.92 2015

As part of NZTA’s construction of the new Ashhurst/Woodville expressway, 16.43ha of riparian and wetland areas were planted in the winter 2021 to offset resulting environmental damage. In conjunction with this programme Tuapaka management has identified a further 9.4ha which has been retired and earmarked for future biodiversity planting.


As at 30 June 2021

This table outlines the types of cover at Tuapaka Farm.
Cover type Hectares
Old pasture 200.00
New pasture including chicory and clover 82.00
Good average pasture 76.97
Commercial forestry (as above) 45.19
Races, tracks, waste 28.25
Riparian diversity planting 15.13
Waterfall regeneration 10.09
Retired for future biodiversity planting 12.99
Manuka 2019 planting 2.08
Research - native shrub block 2.00
Wetland diversity planting 1.30

Total cover 476 hectares.

Stock policies


Approximately 1,700 breeding ewes, slightly less than 700 replacement ewe hoggets and 28 rams are carried on Tuapaka.

Replacements are bred on farm. All MAEwes are mated to a FE resistant maternal sire. Approximately 500 lambs > 36kgs are sold for slaughter at weaning in early December. The remaining lambs are drafted progressively through the season.

Around 380 4/5yr ewes are transferred to Keebles annually. Ewes are weighed and condition-scored four times a year.

Ewe hoggets are mated early May to a Terminal sire with about 50% of the progeny sold to the works and the rest sold store.

Key strategies to improve the performance of the flock

Continued pasture improvement including expansion of the flat country improvement.

A focus on all year-round nutrition of the ewe flock and hogget growth rates with an objective of lifting per head performances. Specifically the following.

  • Heavier ewes at tupping – MAE at 67kg. 2ths at 63kg. This will result in higher scanning and lambing percentages.
  • Focus on growing hoggets from weaning. Treat these as a finishing animal.
  • Lowering the ewe death rate to provide more cull ewes for sale and more selection pressure in the flock.

Production and future targets

This table outlines current production and future targets for sheep 2020-2025.
2020/2021 2021/2022 2024/2025
Scanning 170.2% 179.3% 180.0%
Dry 3.2% 3.2% 2.5%
Ewe death 5.7% 6.0% 5.0%
Lambing 142% 141% 150%
Weaning weight 28.7kg 30.0kg 32.0kg


Tuapaka has recently bred up an Angus breeding herd. The herd is made up of 116 breeding cows (91 Angus breeding cows and 25 in-calf Angus heifers) and replacements. Also grazed are six Angus bulls and 90 Angus calves.

Key strategies to improve cattle performance

  • Target winter growth rates of over 0.5kg/day for June and July with the use of crops.
  • Kill over 60% of animals before the second winter.
  • Weaning weight equivalent to 50% of dam winter weight.

Production and future targets

2020/2021 2021/2022 2024/2025
Scanning 94.8% 93.2% 96.0%
Cow death 2.51% 1.30% 1.20%
Calving 86.5% 88.0% 92.0%
Dry 7.2% 5.1% 5.0%


Soil tests are undertaken biennially on pre-determined transect lines.

Fertiliser applications are then planned in conjunction with the Fertiliser rep using Overseer with the objective of achieving economic optimum applications.

The following tables shows the average soil test readings on Tuapaka since the regular testing regime was established.

Flat unit

This table outlines the soil test results on the flat unit.
Year pH Olsen P SO4 K
2010 5.6 29.0 10.0 5.5
2012 6.1 22.0 9.5 5.0
2014 6.02 25.34 11.68 6.00
2018 5.9 22.4 8.6 9.0
2020 5.6 23.0 10.0 5.5

Hill unit

Year pH Olsen P SO4 K
2010 5.6 30.0 12.0 15.0
2012 5.7 20.0 9.0 11.0
2014 6.0 25.86 15.4 11.0
2018 6.0 25.5 8.2 14.9
2020 5.7 27.0 10.5 12.0

The 2021 fertiliser programme, which is typical, is as follows.

  • Flats: 380kg/ha 10%K Super + N + Selenium (30-24-20-30). 2.5t/ha Lime.
  • New Grass: 200kg/ha Crop15 + Se (30-20-20-15).
  • Hill Block: 370 kg/ha Super + added selenium(0-18-0-22) applied autumn.

Wintering stock numbers

Numbers as at 1 July 2021.


Stock Numbers Stock units
MAEwes 937 937
Two tooths 760 760
Ewe hoggets 710 497
Rams 35 28
Sheep total 2,451 2,222


This table outlines cattle wintering stock numbers and stock units.
Stock Numbers Stock units
MA cows 91 546
R1 Year heifers 45 158
R1 Year steers 45 180
R2 Year heifers 25 150
MA bulls 6 33
Cattle total 292 1,067

Total stock units: 3,289

Our people

Tuapaka Farm is managed by Stephen Bayler with Johno Brophy as Stock Manager.

Stephen Bayer

Farm Manager – Keebles Farm and Farm Manager – Tuapaka Farm & SBCRU
School of Agriculture and Environment


We have three research projects currently underway at Tuapaka Farm.

Stream nitrate concentrations

Monitoring stream nitrate concentrations leaving an 85ha catchment on farm via the Main weir using a high frequency nitrate sensor in order to develop strategies to enhance nitrate attenuation in these features.

Water quality impact – sheep accessing natural waterways

Monitoring the behaviour and impact of sheep accessing natural waterways in spring, summer, autumn and impact on water quality.

Edible native plants

Edible native plant species in North Island hill country.


The original 420 hectare farm was acquired in 1938, with a further 56.5 ha added in 1971. Massey leased the land for approximately ten years until 1948. Following Crown ownership, the university purchased the land freehold in 2018.

Learn more about Massey's history

More information

For further information please email us at: agstation@massey.ac.nz.

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