Three generations of local velveters

FAMILY HERITAGE: (From left) Malcolm, Murdoch and Laurence Rau — all hands are needed on deck during velveting. Picture by Caroline Rau

In what may be a first for New Zealand, the Rau family, who farm inland from Gisborne, can boast three active generations of accredited velveters — Laurence Rau, his son Malcolm and grandson Murdoch.

Laurence started farming deer in the late 1970s initially building a herd of about 400 based on live-captured deer.

There were “a few headaches” back then, he says, when valuable deer had a habit of mysteriously disappearing.

Those days are now well past and the velveting herd he’s developed over the years has been based on seven Danish red stags he imported in the early days. Laurence says the clean, heavy beams of the Danish deer have provided an excellent base for the velveting herd.

More recently he’s bought sires from Tower Farms and last month put in a successful phone bid for a Netherdale stag. The family now run separate enterprises on two properties.

Malcolm and Caroline Rau farm a home block at Te Wera, about 90km west of Gisborne.

Laurence and wife Liz are closer to town in the Ormond district where they live. They run, with a manager, a deer, sheep and beef operation on a leased block at Matawai, owned by another son, Charles, a Gisborne accountant.

Laurence, who is also a velvet competition judge, currently has 300 stags cutting about 1 tonne, but would like to build that herd up to about 500. He now has a manager who he is also planning to get accredited for velveting.

Malcolm and Caroline’s Matawai district property is 600 metres plus above sea level, and, like Laurence’s leasehold farm, is summer safe.

Stock are one-third each sheep, cattle and deer. There are 2000 red deer producing both velvet (about 3 tonnes at present) and venison. There is some overlap between the two sides of the business in terms of breeding.

“Our sires are dual purpose,” Malcolm says.

Son Murdoch, 16, has just left school and begun a farm cadetship at Otiwhiti Station, Hunterville, but his extra pair of hands during velveting, along with Laurence’s, have been very welcome. Malcolm says “Murdoch has grown up with deer and loves working with them.”

The Raus also have 19-year-old twin daughters — one has just qualified as a rural veterinary technician and the other is hoping to join NZ Police.

In what may be a first for New Zealand, the Rau family, who farm inland from Gisborne, can boast three active generations of accredited velveters — Laurence Rau, his son Malcolm and grandson Murdoch.

Laurence started farming deer in the late 1970s initially building a herd of about 400 based on live-captured deer.

There were “a few headaches” back then, he says, when valuable deer had a habit of mysteriously disappearing.

Those days are now well past and the velveting herd he’s developed over the years has been based on seven Danish red stags he imported in the early days. Laurence says the clean, heavy beams of the Danish deer have provided an excellent base for the velveting herd.

More recently he’s bought sires from Tower Farms and last month put in a successful phone bid for a Netherdale stag. The family now run separate enterprises on two properties.

Malcolm and Caroline Rau farm a home block at Te Wera, about 90km west of Gisborne.

Laurence and wife Liz are closer to town in the Ormond district where they live. They run, with a manager, a deer, sheep and beef operation on a leased block at Matawai, owned by another son, Charles, a Gisborne accountant.

Laurence, who is also a velvet competition judge, currently has 300 stags cutting about 1 tonne, but would like to build that herd up to about 500. He now has a manager who he is also planning to get accredited for velveting.

Malcolm and Caroline’s Matawai district property is 600 metres plus above sea level, and, like Laurence’s leasehold farm, is summer safe.

Stock are one-third each sheep, cattle and deer. There are 2000 red deer producing both velvet (about 3 tonnes at present) and venison. There is some overlap between the two sides of the business in terms of breeding.

“Our sires are dual purpose,” Malcolm says.

Son Murdoch, 16, has just left school and begun a farm cadetship at Otiwhiti Station, Hunterville, but his extra pair of hands during velveting, along with Laurence’s, have been very welcome. Malcolm says “Murdoch has grown up with deer and loves working with them.”

The Raus also have 19-year-old twin daughters — one has just qualified as a rural veterinary technician and the other is hoping to join NZ Police.

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