Ruanui Station is situated in the hills west of Taihape in the North Island of New Zealand. With the majestic Mount Ruapehu as its backdrop, the large farming station sits at an altitude of 550m above sea level and takes full advantage of the rich soils of the volcanic plateau.
The iconic view of Mount Ruapehu from Ruanui 2020
Ruanui Station 2020
While Māori did roam the area in earlier times, there is little evidence that they settled at the site of Ruanui Station. Reverend Richard Taylor was the first European to arrive in the area in 1860, and journeyed up the Whanganui River accompanied by 100 Māori. Together, they crossed the Waimarino Plain to the nearby Turakina Valley until, as recorded in Reverend Taylor’s diary, they “reached a little kāinga called Ruanui”. The party then travelled north to Kokako, a pā located near the Huatapu River, where 200 Māori gathered to discuss land settlement.
The shepherds Whare at Ruanui in the 1880's
Early records show that Ruanui was first stocked with cattle in the 1870’s, a venture that proved unsuccessful due to many of the cattle “going bush”. Sheep were later farmed on the property, their wool transported to Napier via horses (see photo below). The 160+ kilometre trip from Ruanui to Napier would take three weeks with a convoy of between 60-70 horses. Many of these horses were later volunteered for service during the First Boer War in the 1880’s.
By the mid 1890’s, progress with the sheep took off and close to 40,000 were shorn. With no established roads to provide access to and from the station, wool was transported via rugged horse tracks some 160-270km’s to Napier and Cambridge.
Pack horses carting wool from Ruanui to Napier early 1900s
First mob of sheep at Ruanui in 1888
Fast-forward 120 years, and a very modern-day Ruanui sees Angus Cattle, Romney Sheep, and Red Deer farmed on the land. These stock types thrive in the rich, elevated environment, and have been farmed for the past 70 years by the Carpenter Family. As the third-generation of their family to farm at Ruanui Station, the Carpenter’s have a strong sense of guardianship of the land and respect for its history. To show this, each of the coloured throws are named after a paddock at Ruanui Station, connecting the final product back to the land, from where it originated.
While farming practices have certainly advanced since their forebears were working the land, one thing remains unchanged at Ruanui; horses are still part of the daily operation. Looking out at the hills surrounding the station, you can often see shepherds on horseback tending to their stock, just as they have for 150 years.
The shepherds mustering at Ruanui 2020