The Moffatt farm just over the swingbridge at Ōtaki Gorge is to remain in the hands of the family.
The property – previously in a Moffatt family trust – has been acquired by the grandson of Ray and Joan Moffatt, Douglas Moffatt, and sister Katherine Cook.
Ray and Joan bought the farm in 1974. Ray died last year and Joan in 2013. Their son, Rod, and his wife, Birgit, have been occupying the farm for several years, looking after Rod’s elderly parents. Rod had been living on Kāpiti Island for 10 years before returning to the Gorge property.
“Dad got sick and couldn’t drive any more,” Rod says. “I made a commitment to him that I would look after him and Mum, so Birgit and I moved in here and did just that.”
Rod and Birgit, an artist who has a studio on the property, will remain in the old farmhouse, built in the early 1900s, which they will now renovate.
They will also help to look after the farm, which has run dry cattle and sheep for generations. Investment from Douglas and Katherine and the support of Rod’s first son, Raymond, will now allow overdue maintenance to be done.
“With Dad getting on and me having to look after him, not much got done around the place,” Rod says. “We can now get fences fixed, gorse cleared and stuff like that.”
The farm has a long history with the Moffatts, so keeping it in the family has been an important factor in the sale.
“Now Douglas and Katherine have bought it, we feel like it’s back to being the papa kainga [family home] it was in past days,” Rod says. “Ownership has always been about the whānau. There’s a lot of history for us here in the Gorge.”
The farm was originally more than nearly 250 hectares (613 acres) when it was first bought by Horace Bethune and Hors Brugh in 1894. In 1941, Ray’s father, Hugh Moffatt, and brother-in-law Dave Blake bought it, then Hugh and wife Rita took full ownership in 1956.
In 1962, Rita, Ray and his farming partner and brother, John Moffatt, acquired it, and in 1974, Ray and Joan took over. Ray and John operated a leasehold farm near the Waitohu River for decades.
In the 1980s, Ray and Joan’s son, Greg, bought most of the land and subdivided it, with most of the units being bought as lifestyle blocks.
The remaining six hectares went into the family trust, allowing Ray and Joan to live out their days on the land they loved.