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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Farming Progress

In the higher hill country, usually above 2,500 ft, land deterioration has been quite marked. Physically the conditions favour reversion of pastures, slipping, and gullying, whilst the isolation of the areas imposes additional costs upon land improvement. This is true also of the lower hill country, but in the post-war period aerial topdressing, along with favourable wool prices, has brought about some improvement of management, though the costs of these operations have been higher, owing to the longer haulages over difficult roads. The total area topdressed in 1951 in the Gisborne Land District (which includes Opotiki County and is therefore larger than the region) was 122,473 acres. By 1960 the acreage topdressed had reached 204,604, 165,518 acres of which were within the region as defined here. Examined statistically, however, the results are not impressive and point to increasing disparities within the region — expansion occurring in the more favoured areas, stagnation or regression being the trend in the less favoured parts. The number of sheep has risen by only 3.7 per cent and the number of ewes by 10.91 per cent (one-quarter of the national rate) in the period 1951 to 1961. Matakaoa, Waiapu, and Uawa counties had less sheep in 1961 than in 1921. Only in Cook County, that is, the Poverty Bay Flats, has growth been either marked or consistent, and there it has been restricted to a 11.88-per-cent increase in the number of sheep (still below the national rate of 39.31 per cent) during the most recent period. In an endeavour to improve pasture management, more beef cattle have been carried to keep down rough growth and clear the pastures. One of the satisfactory features of East Cape farming has been the increased ratio of beef cattle per 100 sheep shorn. In Waiapu County, for instance, the ratio doubled between 1930 and 1950, from 8.7 to 16.2 per 100, and since that date all counties have shown a further, though necessarily lower rate of improvement. This development, which has received some publicity, is brought into perspective when it is realised that during the last decade the rate of increase in beef-cattle numbers has been only one-third of that obtained nationally. The region is not important for dairying; it contains approximately 2 per cent of the dairy cows in milk.