'Important resource' for students

Rick McNeilly manages Mt Grand Station near Lake Hawea for Lincoln University. In addition to running sheep and cattle commercially, the property is often home to students undertaking research projects. Photo: Yvonne O'Hara
Rick McNeilly manages Mt Grand Station near Lake Hawea for Lincoln University. In addition to running sheep and cattle commercially, the property is often home to students undertaking research projects. Photo: Yvonne O'Hara
Rick McNeilly and his family live surrounded by some of the most stunning scenery in the country.

That is a bonus for Mr McNeilly, who manages Mt Grand Station near Lake Hawea, and his wife Sarah and two daughters Zoe and Nadia.

''It is a pretty cool place to live,'' Mr McNeilly said.

Owned by Lincoln University, the commercially run 1600ha-effective sheep and beef property includes 130ha of cultivatable land and 40ha of irrigated area.

It is run through a trust, with profit put towards education, scholarships and farm improvements and about 100 students a year spend a few days on research projects on the property.

''The rest is hill country and we also lease a 39ha block of dryland,'' he said.

He has been managing the property for seven years and prior to that the family leased a property on the shores of Lake Wanaka.

''Our two daughters, Zoe and Nadia, are going to Lincoln University and they come home to help out.''

He and another staff member run the whole operation, although they bring in contractors when required, apart from tailing, which is more of a social occasion with neighbours and friends.

They wintered about 2700 fine wool ewes and about 1500 hoggets as well as running 13 R2 heifers.

He bought 28 calves last week and normally winters about 60 cattle.

''We take the sheep for a couple of winters and then kill them.''

This year they had 100% ewes mated to lambs tailed.

''This is tough country and we leave them until we see them at tailing.''

However, one of his plans is to subdivide some of the higher paddocks so the ewes cannot go as high during lambing next season.

They grow about 26ha of turnip and grass for winter feed, with another 6ha in rape.

''It is the first time we have grown rape, as it is a bit of an experiment,'' he said.

They are also working with Merino New Zealand (MNZ) and are part of the Central Progeny Testing (CPT) programme.

''We will AI 1050 ewes this May and we did that last year as well.

''We still have 800 progeny on the ground from last year's MNZ CPT programme.''

The programme is run by neXtgenAgri on behalf of MNZ.

University deputy vice-chancellor Prof Grant Edwards was at Mt Grand Station, Lake Hawea, as part of a careers day for high school pupils two weeks ago.

He said the station was an important resource for Lincoln University's students and graduates to further their conservation and environmental studies.

''We encourage students to come up here for field trips and research projects that support the primary sector,'' Prof Edwards said.

''While it is a commercial farm and there is also conservation space and livestock production space and the environment aspect.''

He said there was particular emphasis on links between conservation, high country production values, agriculture and tourism.

Add a Comment