Water the deciding factor

New owners of Waipaoa Station see it as a long-term investment.

New owners of Waipaoa Station see it as a long-term investment.

HERE TO STAY: International business leader Phillip Colebatch and his wife Lucinda, new owners of Waipaoa Station, will divide their time between Auckland and the station, and they look forward to playing a part in community development here. They are pictured near their home on the property recently. Picture by Liam Clayton
PLANS TO DEVELOP: Waipaoa Station owners Phillip and Lucinda Colebatch have plans to further develop Waipaoa Station. Their aim is to increase production across all four properties they own in that area with some cropping and irrigation among their visions. File picture

The change in ownership of Waipaoa Station has seen the medium-term future of the Waipaoa Station Farm Cadet Training Scheme secured, and the new owners have plans to develop Waipaoa, along with their other holdings in that area. Phillip and Lucinda Colebatch spoke to Murray Robertson . . .

The new owner of Waipaoa Station, international business leader Phillip Colebatch, sees it as a long-term investment and he and his wife Lucinda want to get involved in the Gisborne community.

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) approved the purchase of the property in late April.

Mr Colebatch leased the property for the past year until the sale process was concluded with the OIO last month.

He and Lucinda have previously purchased the nearby Wheturau Station (1037ha), Te Hau Station (2307ha) and also own a block in Whatatutu Road (234ha).

They previously owned Moanui Station at Matawai but that property was sold in mid-2017.

“Lucinda and I decided in 2005 that New Zealand was the right place to be,” Mr Colebatch said.

“A few years before that I had begun to get concerned about the food and water shortage issues in the world.

“I moved a lot of my investments into areas where a difference could be made when it came to those issues.

“We considered Australia, where I was born and raised, but water is a big issue over there, while New Zealand has very adequate water resources. So New Zealand it was.”

Mr Colebatch had previously run his Great Britain and European business interests from Somerset in the UK but since 2008 has built up his New Zealand investments.

After the couple decided in 2016 to move to New Zealand, he has progressively severed all his investments in that part of the world, in favour of New Zealand . . . and Gisborne!

“We bought Waipaoa because it has very good infrastructure, and we wanted to increase the economies of scale with what we were doing with Te Hau, Wheturau and the Whatatutu block,” Mr Colebatch said.

Planning for further development on Waipaoa Station has now started.

Keen to get involved in the community

“The aim is to build the total area out to 55,000 stock units.

“We have installed computer-controlled variable-rate irrigation systems to make better use of the flat land on Te Hau Station and on our block at Whatatutu.

“We aim to diversify into some cropping on that flat land, something like squash.

“We have yet to evaluate the suitability of any of the Waipaoa Station land for irrigation.”

He said initially the four land purchases were all about the land and the farming.

“But now Lucinda and I have spent more time here in Gisborne, the wider district has become part of it for us too.

“We find Gisborne a very attractive place to live. The climate’s great and this is a very amiable community to live in.”

Mr Colebatch said in common with the rest of the world, Gisborne has some social issues.

“We hope our farming business can help, by providing jobs and training.”

His wife is an archaeologist with an interest in Maori archaeology, which she hopes to pursue.

“I really enjoy being here. Gisborne has a nicer feel to it than where we we lived in the UK.”

The couple own a property at Point Chevalier in Auckland and plan to divide their time between there and Gisborne.

They plan to live in the former school teacher’s house at Waipaoa Station in the interim.

“The 10-year lease we have signed allows the Waipaoa Farm cadet Training Trust to continue its good work on Waipaoa,” he said.

“When we considered the Waipaoa Station purchase we looked hard at whether or not the cadet operation would impact on our ability to run the property.

“But we came to the conclusion that if it was all organised properly it would be of value to both sides.

“Now the students will have a much bigger rig to operate on, across the whole property.”

Mr Colebatch said the property and its relationship with the cadet operation will undoubtedly evolve over the years.

“But that’s probably important and it’s up to the cadet scheme trustees to decide how it evolves from their point of view.

“Our role is to make the land available in a way that’s useful to them and to us.”

As an aside, he said he had chatted with the cadets a few times.
“I’ve told them never to stop learning.”

Mr Colebatch was born in Adelaide in 1944 and in his teens became a surf lifeguard.

At the age of 17 he became the chief instructor of the Glenelg Surf Life Saving Club in Adelaide.

“We rowed surf boats a lot in those days, and I’ve got a few scars to prove it.”

After university he headed to the UK and Europe in his early 20s to pursue his business career, which has included senior positions with many large international corporations, including the US giant Citibank.

He helped refinance the Muldoon government and helped bankroll the development of the Maui gas field.

At age 73 he has no plans to “retire” and remains active on several international boards.

“Lucinda and I consider New Zealand our home.”

They hold New Zealand resident status.

“We see Waipaoa Station and our other holdings as long-term investments that we will leave to our children.”
The couple have three children in their late teens and early 20s, and Mr Colebatch has two other middle-aged offspring from a previous marriage.

“We also want to get involved in the Gisborne community. That was one of our objectives in coming here. I think we can offer our expertise, and that might be useful to the community.”

Mr Colebatch said he has always gauged progress through his business career by the saying: “Did I move the dial?”

“That’s always been my test, and it’s a test I will apply to what we hope to achieve in Tairawhiti.”

The change in ownership of Waipaoa Station has seen the medium-term future of the Waipaoa Station Farm Cadet Training Scheme secured, and the new owners have plans to develop Waipaoa, along with their other holdings in that area. Phillip and Lucinda Colebatch spoke to Murray Robertson . . .

The new owner of Waipaoa Station, international business leader Phillip Colebatch, sees it as a long-term investment and he and his wife Lucinda want to get involved in the Gisborne community.

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) approved the purchase of the property in late April.

Mr Colebatch leased the property for the past year until the sale process was concluded with the OIO last month.

He and Lucinda have previously purchased the nearby Wheturau Station (1037ha), Te Hau Station (2307ha) and also own a block in Whatatutu Road (234ha).

They previously owned Moanui Station at Matawai but that property was sold in mid-2017.

“Lucinda and I decided in 2005 that New Zealand was the right place to be,” Mr Colebatch said.

“A few years before that I had begun to get concerned about the food and water shortage issues in the world.

“I moved a lot of my investments into areas where a difference could be made when it came to those issues.

“We considered Australia, where I was born and raised, but water is a big issue over there, while New Zealand has very adequate water resources. So New Zealand it was.”

Mr Colebatch had previously run his Great Britain and European business interests from Somerset in the UK but since 2008 has built up his New Zealand investments.

After the couple decided in 2016 to move to New Zealand, he has progressively severed all his investments in that part of the world, in favour of New Zealand . . . and Gisborne!

“We bought Waipaoa because it has very good infrastructure, and we wanted to increase the economies of scale with what we were doing with Te Hau, Wheturau and the Whatatutu block,” Mr Colebatch said.

Planning for further development on Waipaoa Station has now started.

Keen to get involved in the community

“The aim is to build the total area out to 55,000 stock units.

“We have installed computer-controlled variable-rate irrigation systems to make better use of the flat land on Te Hau Station and on our block at Whatatutu.

“We aim to diversify into some cropping on that flat land, something like squash.

“We have yet to evaluate the suitability of any of the Waipaoa Station land for irrigation.”

He said initially the four land purchases were all about the land and the farming.

“But now Lucinda and I have spent more time here in Gisborne, the wider district has become part of it for us too.

“We find Gisborne a very attractive place to live. The climate’s great and this is a very amiable community to live in.”

Mr Colebatch said in common with the rest of the world, Gisborne has some social issues.

“We hope our farming business can help, by providing jobs and training.”

His wife is an archaeologist with an interest in Maori archaeology, which she hopes to pursue.

“I really enjoy being here. Gisborne has a nicer feel to it than where we we lived in the UK.”

The couple own a property at Point Chevalier in Auckland and plan to divide their time between there and Gisborne.

They plan to live in the former school teacher’s house at Waipaoa Station in the interim.

“The 10-year lease we have signed allows the Waipaoa Farm cadet Training Trust to continue its good work on Waipaoa,” he said.

“When we considered the Waipaoa Station purchase we looked hard at whether or not the cadet operation would impact on our ability to run the property.

“But we came to the conclusion that if it was all organised properly it would be of value to both sides.

“Now the students will have a much bigger rig to operate on, across the whole property.”

Mr Colebatch said the property and its relationship with the cadet operation will undoubtedly evolve over the years.

“But that’s probably important and it’s up to the cadet scheme trustees to decide how it evolves from their point of view.

“Our role is to make the land available in a way that’s useful to them and to us.”

As an aside, he said he had chatted with the cadets a few times.
“I’ve told them never to stop learning.”

Mr Colebatch was born in Adelaide in 1944 and in his teens became a surf lifeguard.

At the age of 17 he became the chief instructor of the Glenelg Surf Life Saving Club in Adelaide.

“We rowed surf boats a lot in those days, and I’ve got a few scars to prove it.”

After university he headed to the UK and Europe in his early 20s to pursue his business career, which has included senior positions with many large international corporations, including the US giant Citibank.

He helped refinance the Muldoon government and helped bankroll the development of the Maui gas field.

At age 73 he has no plans to “retire” and remains active on several international boards.

“Lucinda and I consider New Zealand our home.”

They hold New Zealand resident status.

“We see Waipaoa Station and our other holdings as long-term investments that we will leave to our children.”
The couple have three children in their late teens and early 20s, and Mr Colebatch has two other middle-aged offspring from a previous marriage.

“We also want to get involved in the Gisborne community. That was one of our objectives in coming here. I think we can offer our expertise, and that might be useful to the community.”

Mr Colebatch said he has always gauged progress through his business career by the saying: “Did I move the dial?”

“That’s always been my test, and it’s a test I will apply to what we hope to achieve in Tairawhiti.”

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