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2 — Rural Living — October 2012

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Twin Lakes deer enjoy stag-gering views

By Rebecca Glover Once upon a time, tall netting fences marched everywhere across the horizon. Everyone, it seemed, was into deer farming. Mike Abbott recalls when deer were hot, in his grandfather’s day: “a newborn hind would be worth $3000 as soon as she hit the ground.” Since those days, like many farming trends, deer farming has been through numerous boom/bust cycles. Mike cites venison prices up to $13 per kilo and as low as $4. Many farmers couldn’t handle the swings and roundabouts; for others, dairy conversions offered a lucrative way out. Mike is happy to stay in the game, on the family farm – and why wouldn’t he? With the two lakes for which the farm is named attracting abundant bird life, and steep hills framing stunning coastal views, it’s a picturesque setting for the animals he loves. “There’s nothing not to like about deer,” Mike says. “They’re exciting, intelligent and easy to care for. They need little if any drenching, have few birthing problems and don’t require foot trimming. I’m not interested in farming anything else.” However, Mike points out that deer can be flighty and unpredictable, necessitating special yards for handling – “a stag can jump a six foot fence from a standing start,” he says.

Deer on the Abbott’s Twin Lakes property lead a contented life. The yards have solid ply, seven foot high internal walls, and are roofed to provide dim light which calms the deer. Curved races encourage them to move forward. Meat production is the main focus of the farm, with velveting (antler removal) being carried out as a safety measure. “Hardened antlers are very dangerous, so it’s essential to get rid of them for safe handling.” The yearlings’ small antlers can be removed using rubber rings, but Mike’s four breeding stags are anaesthetised by a vet for velveting. “They just lie down and start snoring.” Bribery, in the form of feed in a bucket, has played a large part in

making the big stags quiet to handle – “cupboard love,” Mike reckons. With 80-90 breeding hinds, the enterprise is “not very lucrative” but a manageable size for Mike, who has a full time job off-farm working as an engineer in south Auckland. Good fencing, essential for any farm, is a particular challenge for deer farms. The tall mesh is costly and difficult to handle, especially on steep terrain. But Mike’s wife Anthea provides expert help. “Anthea’s very good at fencing. She’s my number one fencing assistant, and I couldn’t have managed without her.” Mike describes fencing as a oneoff cost, but on the coast, the salt

NAIT coming for deer Cattle are already embraced by the NAIT tagging system – soon deer will join them. NAIT tags will become compulsory for all farmed deer on March 1, 2013, but from October 1, deer farmers have had the option of tagging their animals with NAIT tags in preparation for the new regime. “Deer farmers who have already put NAIT tags into their animals, or plan to do so soon, won’t have to keep using AHB barcoded primary tags,” says AHB operational policy manager Nick Hancox.


“The change cuts out the cost of having to use two eartags in the lead up to NAIT becoming compulsory for deer.” “NAIT and the AHB are working closely with Deer Industry New Zealand and the New Zealand Deer Farmers’ Association to ensure deer farmers understand their obligations when NAIT becomes mandatory,” says NAIT CEO Russell Burnard, who is hoping for an orderly changeover to the new tagging system. But Mike Abbott (see deer story above) sees no benefit to

his farming operation in the NAIT system. “Like cattle, deer are already identified by their barcoded AHB tags, so the NAIT tags offer no advantage in terms of traceability or performance recording,” he says. “I’m not planning on spending $1000 on a scanner as I can already see the animals’ numbers with their existing tags. “For me, the new tags are just an additional cost. “However, we have to comply, and we will.”

Photos supplied

spray means fences last only half the normal 30-year lifespan. Red deer populate the Twin Lakes hills. Smaller than wapiti, they are easier to handle. Fallow deer are smaller again, but stroppy beyond their size. Mikes says they have ‘little deer syndrome.’ Stock are sent to the works at 12-14 months, with good export prices ensuring most New Zealand venison goes offshore. Germany is the main market; Korea and the US are smaller customers. Little supplementary feed is required, mostly kibbled maize “with a dash of molasses.” Mike adds that the deer aren’t keen on hay, which is fortunate as the farm’s steep contour would pose difficulties for feeding out. Mating occurs during the ‘roar’, approximately April-June. After 223 days’ gestation, fawns arrive in the special fawning paddocks, which have shade as the youngsters are susceptible to sunstroke. The Abbotts enjoy seeing the young fawns bouncing around, “just like Bambi,” according to Mike, who, these days, tends to be distracted from farm work by his own little ‘dears’. One-year-old George is “out the door at every opportunity” and Alia, almost three, is surely set to be, if not a deer farmer, a diplomat. “Her first word was ‘deer’,” says her father. “I was very proud of her!”

Rural Living — October 2012 — 3

school wins challenge Last month’s Let’s Cook with Parmco programme for schools saw Patumahoe School beat more than 370 schools around the country to win one of eight grand prizes of kitchen appliances worth $150,000. Sponsored by Kiwi appliance brand Parmco and backed by first Masterchef winner, Brett McGregor, the free cooking programme served to encourage children to cook with a focus on fresh and healthy food. Brett, a former teacher and deputy principal, said response to the programme was incredible. “Schools held cooking events, took treats to radio stations to get on air, went to local horse races, and set up Facebook pages and voting stations for parents without the internet,” he said. “One school called their local hospital at 11pm on the final voting night to ask staff to vote, as they’d be the only ones awake!” Patumahoe School received 1274 votes, securing its spot as the winner of the 200-299 student category. School administration officer Margaret Stormont said she enrolled Patumahoe School in the programme as soon as she heard about it. “We have an existing programme at the school called Paddock to Plate and had been fundraising to turn one of our garden sheds into a kitchen. Winning the appliances meant we equipped the shed really well.” Started by two mothers Tamsin Wilson and Mel Baker, Paddock to Plate is a joint initiative run by parent volunteers and the school that teaches children to plant fruit and vegetables, harvest and cook them. Margaret said five classes of 23-25 students participated in Let’s Cook and used the recipes from the programme for their weekly projects. “We’re really excited about winning it and would like to thank everyone who supported us with voting. It was the community, family and friends who enabled us to win.”

Brett McGregor with Patumahoe pupils after presentation of the prize.

4 — Rural Living — October 2012

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Culinary coup for young chef By Darren McDonald There are few occasions to celebrate New Zealand losing its valuable talent, but this is the story of one imminent departure we can celebrate, because there’s a solid promise of coming home. 21-year-old Clarks Beach resident and apprentice chef Ben Heap is determined to travel the world and return to New Zealand to share the culinary skills he learns abroad. It will be a homecoming to savour. Ben is one of eight of the best apprentice chefs in the country. His prowess in the kitchen was acknowledged recently when he

was chosen to compete in the prestigious Modern Apprentice of the Year Awards at ASB Showgrounds in Auckland. “In the cook-off, we were given a list of ingredients and I did a salmon dish. “We submitted recipes and we were given two hours to do a dessert and the main.” Inspired by a combination of Kiwi and French cooking styles, Ben’s culinary invention was divine – maple syrup-marinated salmon on kumara rosti with buttered green beans and a lemon infused white wine sauce. And I can personally assure

Ben Heap impressed at awards. 

Photos supplied

readers it was divine, because I was lucky enough to enjoy it at Clarks Beach restaurant Chin Wags where Ben is serving his apprenticeship. In December, Ben will become a fully qualified chef, after which he

hopes to travel to Australia, Europe and America before returning home to fulfil the dream of owning and running his own restaurant. It will be a homecoming worth savouring… trust me.

len me your ears!

Manager: Karla Wairau DDI 09 271 8083, Fax: 09 271 8099 Publisher: Brian Neben 50 Stonedon Dr, East Tamaki, AKLD PO Box 259-243, Botany, Auckland 2163 Telephone: 09 271 8080, Fax: 09 271 8099 DISCLAIMER: Articles published in Rural Living do not necessarily reflect the views of the publishers or editor. All material is provided as a general information service only. Times House Publishing Ltd does not assume or accept any responsibility for, and shall not be liable for, the accuracy or appropriate application of any information in this newspaper. All the material in this newspaper has the protection of international copyright. All rights reserved. No content may be reproduced without the prior written consent of Times House Publishing Ltd.

Mayor Len Brown and artist Toni Dolan. 

Photos supplied

Super City super-mayor, Len Brown, was ‘bowled over’ when presented with a painting by local artist, Toni Dolan, on a recent visit to Clarks Beach. He impressed a crowd of more than 100 at the Clarks Beach Bowling Club last month with responses to questions regarding the ‘outer reaches’ of the Super City. The Waiau Pa and Clarks Beach Business Association gifted him with the painting – titled Our Clarks Beach – which includes a tiny Sky Tower

to remind Len that such outposts of Auckland really do count, no matter how remote they may seem!

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Rural Living — October 2012 — 5

scourge of calf rearers By Anna McNaughton Calf rearers, whether raising five or 500 calves, dread the word “rotavirus”. Typically, just as owners are congratulating themselves on the calves settling and feeding well, the first sign of trouble is spotted – runny, discoloured droppings known as scours. Calves from four to 21 days are most susceptible. Digestive upsets, due to a change of routines or of diet, i.e. whole milk/colostrum to powdered milk, can be easily rectified with the use of probiotics or easing back on milk volumes for 24-48 hours. The problem is, swiftly recognising whether the scour is comparatively innocuous, or is the first sign of an

outbreak of the deadly rotavirus. The rapid onset of dullness/complete lack of appetite, followed by collapse, usually indicates the worst case scenario – rotavirus has struck. Faecal lab tests are needed to prove the infectious agent but it is more important to begin fluid replacement therapy as soon as a calf shows signs of illness and to isolate any suspect calves. This is important because infected calves will shed the virus in their droppings rapidly infecting most of the mob. Veterinary electrolyte preparations are preferable to homemade glucose and salt concoctions. Ideally, the electrolyte is given by mouth but if the calf is refusing to suck on a bottle, stomach tubing may be resorted to.

Some calves will respond well and will bounce back within a couple of days of good nursing; others will die very quickly. All in all, in the middle of a busy calf rearing job, it is a distressing, time-consuming problem with high losses. Rotavirus is shed by cows at calving time so that calves are exposed from birth; the colostrum/first milk which carries the protective antibodies to many infectious agents, will not protect the calves UNLESS the cow herd has been vaccinated pre-calving. This begs the question – given the value of both recorded dairy replacement calves and good quality dairybeef calves (prices for both have been around $300 at four plus days of age this season) why is the vaccination

Three-week-old calves get to grips with feeding. for rotavirus uncommon? The cost-effective vaccination of whole herds, between 3-12 weeks before calving, plus ensuring that ALL calves have access to colostrum

Photo supplied

within six hours of birth with followup colostrum feeds for the next few days, gives great protection from this killer disease and peace of mind for calf rearers.

Fighting off invasive, fast growing flannelweed Flannelweed (Solanum mauritianum), also known as woolly nightshade or tobacco weed, is one of the most invasive weeds of roadsides, wastelands, plantation forest, bush, bush margins and revegetation plantings. What’s more, given the chance it will invade farmland. Fast-growing, this small tree can develop from seedling to two metres, flowering and fruiting within a year. An import from Brazil, it has made itself at home in New Zealand. Its yellow fruit is produced in prodigious quantities and is very attractive to many birds, which inconveniently distribute seeds throughout the countryside. Like most weeds, this plant will

adapt to and thrive in a wide range of conditions. The leaves are occasionally browsed by hungry animals and, having been implicated in the poisoning of livestock, it is best to ensure that flannelweed is cleared from fencelines, margins and paddocks. The plant can cause allergic reactions in humans too, so wear good gardening gloves when handling it. Waikato council has an eradication policy in place, while Auckland council vacillates! However, both councils assist Landcare groups with eradication programmes so if there is a big flannelweed problem contact the biosecurity officers for assistance.


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With bi-annual checks and action flannelweed seedlings will diminish. A biocontrol agent, the flannelweed lacebug (Gargaphia decoris), also from Brazil, has now been introduced

to New Zealand following extensive trials in South Africa. This bug was released at several sites in greater Auckland during the autumn of 2011. It is hoped that populations will thrive and eventually spread, assisting in the control of flannelweed trees by eating the foliage, preventing fruiting and weakening stands of plants. In the meantime, with a minimum five-year wait for the biocontrol agent to come to our aid, controlling the plants on a property is not as daunting as it may appear. Small seedlings through to one metre are often readily pulled out of the ground. Spraying with the herbicide (picloram) can be a good option;

the soft leaves rapidly soak up the herbicide. Cutting and painting the freshly cut stems with either a gel such as Vigilant (picloram) or a homemade spray mixture can be most effective. However, the stems must be painted immediately after cutting so this is a chore ideally done with two people, one cutting; one painting. Spring is the best time to attack as the plants are already flowering. Fruit is set and ripened very speedily so action now will prevent a new crop. As with all weeds, follow-up diligence is essential with a twice-yearly check of cleared sites and removal of new seedlings being a great way to stay on top.

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6 — Rural Living — October 2012


Challenge to name new colt put to readers As I’m sitting here assembling my monthly column I notice lots and lots of young plums have been blown off our two trees due to the exceptionally strong winds we have been experiencing these past few days. I mentioned in last month’s diary how we had seen more blossoms this year than in the past so now I’m hoping the spring winds are over and everything can get back to normal. We had one tree blow over in the gales and we lost power for a few hours one Saturday a week or so back. When I phoned faults at Counties Power the operator was most obliging – and, by the way, I got straight through which was pleasing. Relaying our situation I was told there had been 400 reported faults and consequently teams would be working through the night to fix broken lines. We were back to full power the next morning so special thanks to those concerned as without power we were also without water and unable to open the garage doors. The freezer also had to be kept closed to save the food inside from

Brian Neben publishes Rural Living and is also an avid lifestyle farmer

COUNTRY LAD defrosting. But all’s well that ends well. In a recent issue of Rural Living I mentioned the big ducks which Spring saw Brian’s duck population boosted dramatically before had made their home on our pond. Photo supplied predators took their toll. Well, being spring means babies, and last week there were more holiday which was just the ticket Willowbrook. The successful name than 25 ducklings swimming on after winter. Now, apart from the will win the entrant a dinner for the pond. In fact, we think there wind, the early spring has been two at Alexander Park’s Top of the were more but have you ever tried great for pasture growth and both Town restaurant at a time to suit. counting ducklings on the water! trees and garden plants seem to be To enter your choice of name The sad thing was that after thriving in this climate. email or write three days they were all gone; obviMany of you will remember that your suggested name, together ously killed by eels, pukeko, stoats last month we published a photo- with your own name and contact or similar predators. graph of our new foal which had details on the back of an envelope, We need Ditch Keeling from just been born. and post to Naming Competition, Coastal Pests to come and have This brings me to our next prob- PO Box 259 243 Botany, Auckland a look at this problem so we can lem – what to call him. This is 2163. overcome it in the future. where I need the help of readers I’ll bring you up to speed next Anyway, back to work. I was so we are having a competition to month and hopefully we will have busy chipping out thistles missed name the foal. a winner soon after. Until then, NEW ZEALAND'S previously before heading LEADING off on BEAUTY He isWEBSITE a colt by Real Desire from enjoy the spring.



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Rural Living — October 2012 — 7

Island retreat outstanding in every way Reay Neben is a Franklin resident and publisher of Rural Living.

CITY LASS “Holiday in Paradise” is how Yasawa Island Resort was promoted when I made the booking for this winter idyll. I have been travelling to Fiji, always on Air New Zealand, for more years than I care to remember and resorts we have stayed at have met different needs according to our requirements at the time. For example, when travelling with children we looked for big resorts where there was plenty to keep young and old active and amused. Now life has changed and I need luxury, quiet and the best beach in the world. A big ask, but I found it. Yasawa Island Resort was magnificent. Photos of resorts are always beautiful and this resort seemed no different. But what was different was that on arrival it proved more impressive than any photograph. Firstly, the people and the service were amazing. I have made lots of comments over the past few years that the ‘bulas’ on the mainland seem to be fewer with each passing year. Well, on Yasawa the ‘bulas’ were genuine and really forthcoming. The flight to the island needs mentioning as I am terrified of flying and

Fabulous Yasawa Island Resort – clockwise from top left; deck and pool outside unit, early morning fishing, interior Photos Reay Neben of unit, the small eight-seater plane.

to fly on an eight-seater was, for me, really scary. My husband flew on the same flight and he thought it was fantastic – same flight, different attitude! I have done the Air New Zealand ‘fear of flying’ course bit but, truly, it was my ignorance about the flight that made me frightened.

As it turned out, the flight was perfect and I would never be frightened again knowing that the Yasawa Island Resort was at the end of the thirtyfive minute journey. What made this resort so special was the manner in which it was managed. The staff, mostly from the nearby village of Bukama, were very

proud to work there as there was no other employment on the island. The village also supports the Yasawa School and we were told that from that little school, 12 students were at university. Such was the calibre of resort staff, you only ever saw smiling faces and nothing was ever too much trouble.

The layout of the bures scattered around the beach front provided privacy for all and rooms were large and well appointed. Activities were many and varied although just lying under an umbrella and reading a good book was hard to beat. Early each morning, there was the option to go fishing and fish caught were on the menu later in the day. The scuba diving and snorkelling was spectacular (or so I am told as that was not on my programme so I can only report on what I was told by the other guests). One big treat during our stay was being taken to a private beach where we were set up with mats, umbrella and a picnic lunch. Then, after much or no activity, the spa came into play. The Baravi Spa is situated at the end of the resort right on the beach. Guests enjoy the treatments with the sound of the sea pounding on the beach lulling one’s senses – it was superb. Interestingly, this resort experienced a fire in the main dining area in 2009 which closed the facility until January 2011. However, despite missing the visitors, staff were employed in the rebuilding and it really is luxury personified. I know I sound like a tourist brochure but that’s what it was like for me – much better than any brochure could describe. Now life is returning to normal and the seven days on Yasawa is fast becoming a lovely memory. See you next month, and perhaps Yasawa next year!




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8 — Rural Living — October 2012


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Rural Living — October 2012 — 9

Feast your eyes on equine beauty By Rebecca Glover

That most beautiful of horse breeds, the Arabian, will be on show in Photo supplied Karaka. will be taken up to November 10, and there will be a goody bag for every contestant. “To link in with the Olympic

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A touch of the Middle East is coming to Franklin in December. Arabian horses from all over the North Island will descend on Karaka to contest the Arabian Spectacular Show, which this year will be the North Island Championships hosted by the Auckland Arabian Horse Club. Organiser, Sheridene Swift, says it’s a rare opportunity to see so many of these beautiful animals in one place. “The Spectacular is one of only two all Arabian shows in the North Island this season – the other is the National Show in Cambridge next March. We’re expecting 80-100 horses to attend.” The show will be held on the weekend of December 8 & 9, with halter classes on the Saturday and performance classes on Sunday. The Sunday classes include the crowd-pleasing costume classes, both led and ridden, when horses and riders appear in colourful and exotic garb evoking the mystery and magic of Arabia. The venue for the event is Blackbridge Park, in Blackbridge Road, Karaka, which has generously been made available by Dawn and Don MacKinnon and Tony van den Brink. “The grounds are gorgeous, and the facilities amazing, with state of the art stables,” says Sheridene. “We’re really lucky to have such a wonderful setting for our show.” Organisers hope the many local

Games, we’re having gold, silver and bronze sashes for prize winners, specially made in Australia. They’re pretty impressive!” Sheridene says. The judges are also Aussie imports. Top judges Allan Preston, Adam King and Clint Bilson will preside over all classes, marking each horse on a scoring system to ensure impartiality. Sponsorship for the show has been vital, with the likes of IRT horse transport, McCallum Brothers (who supply coarse base rock for arenas) and Equilibrium horse supplement providing support. As well as a feast for the eyes, spectators will enjoy catering from a local school to stop those tummies rumbling, and Linda from the Country Market at Karaka will provide wine tasting and gourmet goodies. Sheridene and the rest of the Auckland Arabian Horse Club committee have spent months working to ensure the Spectacular lives up to its name, in this 21st year of its existence. The club has also been around for decades and, these days, includes members far beyond Auckland. Apart from shows, the club organises social gatherings, stud tours and instruction days which are always well attended. At the moment, though, preparation for the Arabian Spectacular show is full on. “Everyone gives their time for free,” Sheridene points out. “And it’s a lot of time!”



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wants to purchase a problem. “With a pre-purchase inspection at least buyers can be made aware of work which may need doing, or in the case of a new home, work which is uncompleted or not to standard. We can also provide a fair assessment of costs if purchasers know from the start that they want to renovate or restore a prospective property.” Although Simon Brown Builders Ltd has been up and running for almost 35 years there was a period

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when building took a back seat for Simon. “In 1993 I entered ministry training with the Baptist Church and then for the best part of 13 years I was committed to working in the church.” But despite this change in direction, the tools were never far from Simon’s grasp. In 2002 he led a team to the Philippines to take on a volunteer building project with Habitat for Humanity. “Since then we’ve been back twice, the last time to help build a

church which was to be a community facility; it’s something we’ve enjoyed doing and I’m really proud of the team’s commitment.” With Sean keen to join his dad in business, Simon Brown Builders Ltd, was reactivated nine years ago and today employs three extra carpenters and works with a team of experienced subcontractors. “We’re also pretty proud of our history of apprenticeship training,” Simon says. “We’ve trained six apprentices since 2005, two of whom has gone on to Top 10 apprentices in the Auckland Master Builder awards. “We have two apprentices working with us at present and recently took on a Waiuku College student under the Gateway programme which provides senior students with career experience. He’s now keen to do an apprenticeship with us too and I’m hopeful we can provide him with this start.” A transparent company which values industry honesty and fairness, Simon Brown Builders Ltd, has local knowledge, a dedicated team and service ethics. This is the ideal company for design and build renovation and alteration jobs where DIY is not the answer. What’s more the company offers a 15-year water-tight and five-year workmanship guarantee! Simon Brown Builders Ltd, Licensed Builders, 122 Kitchener Rd, Waiuku Ph (09) 235 0029 W: E:





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Rural Living — October 2012 — 11

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innovation, agricultural equipment, products and gadgets,” Norma says. “And, with Christmas just around the corner, there’s loads of gift ideas too.” Great music, entertainment for the children and live demonstrations promise to keep visitors happy for hours. Youngsters can get up close and personal with sheep and ponies, equestrian riders will compete for ribbons and visitors can discover the latest gardening secrets.

For a low cost, fun day out, visit the Clevedon A&P Show, Saturday and Sunday, November 10-11. Gates open at 9am; ticket prices $20 a family; $10 single adults; $3 children aged 3-14 years and no charge for youngsters under the age of three. 53871


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12 — Rural Living — October 2012


Rural Living — October 2012 — 13

14 — Rural Living — October 2012

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Dig this life! Gardening guru By Jon Rawlinson When some people talk, we all listen. So, when garden guru Eion Scarrow proclaimed that by placing plastic bottles filled with water on the lawn, dogs would be deterred from conducting their business, it was not surprising that the world believed him. However, years after the former presenter of the iconic garden show, Dig This, announced that this was merely an April Fool’s joke, such is the credibility of the man, that people continued to believe his impromptu jape. “I was on 1ZB years ago. I was asked ‘hey this is April Fool’s today and I just blurted it out and it went right around the world,” he says, with a mischievous grin, “We’ve had queries from Spain, Belgium, France, England and we really conned the Aussies!” Although, when I recently visited Eion and his wife and gardening partner, Ann, I said that I was only asking about the dog poo prank out of personal interest, I find myself unable to write about Eion without mentioning this most characteristic chapter in his long

Eion and Ann’s extensive garden attracts lots of visitors. and distinguished career. From pranks, to tales of riding along the arches of the Fairfield Bridge and chalking the tyres of a hearse when working as a traffic cop, Eion certainly has a tale or two to tell. They all express the delight he still experiences after 70 years of educating, entertaining, sometimes confusing and always enjoying people. Widely known throughout the gardening community – even on the day of my visit, he had the rapt attention of a garden group from

Photo Jon Rawlinson

Onewhero – Eion is perhaps best known as the presenter of longrunning TV show, Dig This. His first foray into television began in 1972, characteristically with a prank. “I was in charge of a big garden centre in Hamilton at the time,” he explains, “Reg Chibnall used to do a programme but he knew nothing about gardening at all. He would come in just before he went on air [and say] ‘what can I do Eion, what can I do?’ so I would give him a whole lot of things to talk about.

“One day I thought ‘blast it’; I’m not spending all my time helping him! Now, there’s a fruit called Stauntonia, it’s not really edible, but when it’s really ripe, it’s beautiful. I said ‘bite into this and tell people about it,’ but I gave him one that wasn’t quite ripe and his face screwed up [when he realised] how bitter it was. He said ‘I’ll get even with you Eion!’.” When, later that year, Eion was asked to take over Reg’s 15-minute programme, the ‘sour-faced’ Reg had planned a little taste of revenge! “Reg said ‘I’ll introduce you five minutes from the end, so just have enough material for five minutes. But the rotter introduced me five minutes into the programme instead! Luckily the floor manager saw my quandary, picked up indoor plants and put them in front of me and I talked about them. So, I got through it nicely.” In 1975, Eion was approached by the producer of Country Calendar, Frank Torley, and so began New Zealand’s first national gardening programme. Eion soon found himself loading up his Ford V8 for the long drive to Avalon Studios in

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Real New Zealand heritage at its best Standing in awe of the giant kauri trees of the Waipoua Forest you can but wonder what happened to the primeval forests that once covered a lot of northland. To discover the history of the demise of the kauri forests and how it intertwined with the lives of the early settlers, The Kauri Museum is a ‘must see’ when visiting Northland. This is a story that is part of our nation’s history that will never be told again. There is over 4500 square metres of undercover displays telling stories using the real machinery or memorabilia that was rescued from the bygone era. Mannequins modelled from the descendants of the settlers populate the exhibitions turning them into living history. A full sized colonial house shows you life in a beautiful Victorian villa showing how glorious kauri was

when it was used for just everything, i.e. floors, ceilings, furniture, walls etc. There is also a full sized replica of a boarding house demonstrating the importance of a place to stay when travellers arrived by boat or horse and where business was carried out like banking and dentistry etc. A golden glow is what you see when you enter the room which houses the biggest collection of Kauri Gum on display

in the world. A turning steam sawmill shows visitors how huge kauri logs were cut into boards. There is also an amazing collection of 110 chainsaws, the 1929 Caterpillar tractor that replaced the bullock teams of a bygone era, plus many other examples that tell this real New Zealand heritage. The Kauri Museum is truly one of New Zealand’s best kept secrets and always surprises visitors with the amazing collections that are on display. the Kauri Museum is at Matakohe only 90 minutes north of auckland, just off SH 12 on the twin Coast discovery Highway. Clean restrooms/facilities with information centre on-site. Cafés and accommodation nearby. Open 9am-5pm every day except Christmas day. Website: 119853a

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Rural Living — October 2012 — 15

lifestyle and leisure

Eion Scarrow unearthed in the Waikato Lower Hutt for filming. “By the time I’d loaded up on Sunday I could only just fit into the car because I had to put in enough material for five programmes. I was into stockcars at the time – I was speedway control board steward at Forest Lake Stadium and the boys used to tune my car, which could do up to 120 miles an hour; I used to leave at three in the morning from Gordonton where I lived and I’d be down there rested and ready for work at eight o’clock!” No stranger to life in the fast lane, even today Eion enjoys his motors almost as much as his garden. Now living in Te Kauwhata, south of Auckland, he spends his days atop a hill overlooking Hampton Downs racetrack, with a landfill to one side and a prison to the other. “We’re very good mates with the neighbours; people say they’re the good, the bad, the ugly and we’re the rose in between! But we get on very well with the lot of them.” After a recent health scare, Eion was stalled in his tracks, but says his passion for gardening will never be halted. “I was in hospital with heart problems. I know quite a lot of the racing drivers who were racing Super V8s. Johnny McIntyre spotted me and said, ‘gidday Eion, we’re doing a hot lap, hop in.’ I said ‘Thank you, I’d love to but no. Then Andy Booth,

Left, new take on a garden gate; right, Eion Scarrow.  ‘hey Eion, we’re doing a hot lap, come on, hop in’, then Kane Scott too, but I couldn’t.” Told he had only months to live, Eion continues to defy his medical prognosis, and without having to trade his love of wheels for a wheelchair, as predicted by doctors. By the time Dig This wrapped in 1986, Eion says he had had enough of television, but never of gardening. “By that time I’d just about had enough. We used to film all over New Zealand and I had to find most of the gardens to film in. I was getting sick

Photos Jon Rawlinson

of both [the show and travelling].” Looking back, he says he never dreamed that Dig This would prove as popular as it did, but adds the key to the show’s epic run, was the approach to gardening . “It was probably the honesty and integrity we offered; I wouldn’t con my way through anything. I knew my subject matter well and I’d quietly say ‘how much time have we got left? Three minutes? Okay.’ Then I’d talk for three minutes and come out right on the dot. I was very good at that.” These days Eion and Ann make

their living primarily by showing their expertly tended garden to visitors. While he no longer needs to be conscious of the clock, Eion is as conscious as ever of ensuring people enjoy their visit to his garden. “I’ve always learnt by asking questions; that’s the best way to learn anything. I’ve been to 98 countries just looking at gardens. For instance, I’ve been to Japan about six times and I studied bonsai under one of the top bonsai masters. He had a little cane and every time I got something wrong he’d whack me across the knuckles!

“My advice to anyone interested in gardening is just try! Even if you make a stuff up, have a go! Like my old man said to me, ‘you only need to ask yourself one question when gardening: If I did it this way, would it work?’.” In the years since Dig This first aired, Eion has become a prolific writer, with 24 books on the shelves and another – titled Garden Wise – in progress. “This book’s just about how I garden, how I started off and how I progressed through my gardening. I’m a wee bit behind at the moment, but it’ll be published about December next year. I hate writing, but if I’m asked to, I can’t say, ‘no’. “What I love doing most is this [giving garden tours], and I love giving cheek,” he says. “Our nursery is producing top quality plants, from tiny orchids to large trees, and of course, vegetable plants plus a huge range of perennials, as well as our popular organic liquid fertiliser, ‘Dig This’.” I left Eion happy to be caught between a rock and a fast place, amidst his hilltop oasis, pottering around and waiting for the next group of visitors to educate and regale with tales of an iconic Kiwi garden guru. ■■ Groups and individuals are welcome to visit Eion and Ann Scarrow at their Te Kauwhata property where plants and products are available for sale. For more information email

On track for great day! And they’re racing! Well, not quite yet but come Saturday, November 24, the Franklin racing fraternity will be out in force for the annual DHL Counties Cup Day at Pukekohe Park. With $450,000 worth of stakes on offer Counties Racing Club will host its biggest day of the season and a large dose of community support is expected. With the programme listing 10 races, including the coveted $100,000 DHL Counties Cup and the $100,000 NRM/Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes (both group two races), excitement is building. Then there’s the $50,000 Murdoch Newell Stakes for two-year-olds and

the $50,000 Counties Bowl adding to a competitive race mix designed to attract visitors from far and wide. Last year’s $100,000 DHL Counties Cup was won by Postman’s Daughter which is racing again this year with the hope of making it two in a row. Owned and trained on course by local identity and valued club member Don “Doc” Walker, Postman’s Daughter, also crowned 2011/12 Pukekohe Horse of the Year, was ridden to victory last year by young jockey Danielle Johnson. Don’s hoping for a repeat performance. Naturally, there will be plenty of punters hoping to back winners, but Counties Cup Day also offers fun and entertainment for the whole family.

Left, last year’s Counties Cup winner, Postman’s Daughter, and above, Photos supplied guests relax at the 2011 event.  With numerous grassy banks providing great viewing areas, Pukekohe Park is an ideal course to pack a picnic lunch and bring the kids too. And they won’t be bored – a bouncy castle, face painting and Mr Whippy will help keep youngsters busy. However, for those planning to

celebrate, upmarket facilities in the members’ stand cater for a variety of needs. And what would Cup Day be without Fashions in the Field. This annual competition sponsored by NZ Woman’s Weekly ensures that glamour, style and colour are essential

ingredients of the day. So mark the date on your calendar, get together a group of friends and be sure to dig out the glad rags. Then head for Pukekohe Park on November 24 for a flutter and a great day out. For more about DHL Counties Cup Day visit

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16 — Rural Living — October 2012

lifestyle and leisure

Saddle up and head south It’s horses for courses as Kiwi rodeo lovers prepare to hit the not-so dusty trail to Hamilton when the International Rodeo rides into town next month. After sell-out success in 2011, the International Rodeo promises to be bigger and better than ever. With talented and champion riders from throughout the world in attendance, event production manager, Fred Doherty says this is one of the largest indoor rodeos in Australasia. “International contestants jump at the chance to come to New Zealand. They’ve heard about the country and our rodeo circuit and we have a great reputation as part of the international rodeo family,” Fred says. Featuring stars such as Canadian Saddle Bronc rider Kerry LaValley and his ‘posse’ of Canadian riders, buckling up alongside members of the New Zealand Rodeo Cowboys’ Association, the event takes place on Saturday, November 24 at the Claudelands Arena.

Cody Angland from NSW competing in last year’s rodeo. Photo supplied

BE IN TO WIN: Rural Living has a double pass to give away to one lucky reader! To be in to win, simply visit the competitions section at and complete the form. One entry per person; entries close November 16.

Prime stock is being sourced from all over the North Island and will include the famous bareback horse ‘Jawbreaker’. “Showcasing our sport at such a fantastic venue is great,” Fred says. “Fans really got behind the event last year and

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Rural Living — October 2012 — 17


lifestyle and leisure Win! Pack and Rifle For the outdoorsman (and woman) living the life means going bush with pack and rifle in search of fair game! But when work and family keeps one housebound, a newly released reprint of Philip Holden’s classic hunting adventures, Pack and Rifle, is just the book to conjure up dreams of the wild. A book that has inspired generations of hunters, Pack and Rifle is ideal reading for any outdoorsman (or woman) or hunter. A former deer culler with the New Zealand Government Forest Service,

and a well-known author of hunting and outdoor works, Holden’s moving, humorous book, first published in 1971, contains a wealth of knowledge and hunting lore. It is written with the deepest respect for the back-country, the animals that inhabit it and the people who hunt there. It remains relevant and will fascinate a new generation of hunting enthusiasts. While some of the people mentioned have moved on

since the book was first released, and some stories date back many years, the hills today are little changed. To be in the draw to win a copy visit www.ruralliving. then click on the competitions link and fill in the form. One entry per person; entries close November 14, 2012. Winner notified by phone or email. ■■ Pack and Rifle by Philip Holden, published by Harper Collins. RRP $36.99.

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Super garden guide Leisure for many people can be summed up in one word – gardening! Turning the earth, cultivating fresh produce, and arranging a few fragrant flowers is one way to unwind and forget the day’s stresses. And at this time of year, Kiwis are planting new seedlings and tidying up after winter and when it comes to staying in step with the seasons, there’s no better way than with Yates! Offering tips and

techniques covering everything from pruning to pests, as well as when to sow, plant and harvest, new book, Yates Month by Month, really does what it says on the jacket. From one of the most trusted names in gardening, it provides easy-to-follow planting guides for all major Australasian climatic zones, enabling gardeners to plant with confidence. Beautifully illustrated, with pages for

ALPACA FARM TOURS For all clubs and organisations $10 per person. For all pre-school organisations $3.00 per child and $5.00 per adult Home-baked morning or afternoon tea provided ★ Get up close and feed the Alpacas. ★ Lead and touch the Alpacas, great for photo shots. ★ Find out the history of the Alpacas. ★ See the fleece in the raw right to finished garments. ★ Visit the shop for Alpaca products on sale.

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your own notes, this growing guide is a ‘must have’ especially for amateur gardeners with lots of questions. Better still Rural Living has one copy of this good-looking gardening tome to give away! To enter the draw simply visit then click on the competitions link and complete the form. One entry per person; entries close November 14, 2012. Winner notified by phone or email. ■■ Yates Month by Month by Judy Horton; published by HarperCollins. RRP: $34.99.

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YardArt Designs – a work of art! It’s easy to be inspired at YardArt Designs, tucked away in the heart of rural Franklin, just over the railway line at Paerata. An oasis overflowing with statuary, garden art, pots, water features and novel creatures in styles ranging from antiquity to modernity, it will please even the most hardened soul. Indeed it is the ideal destination for those looking to dress gardens and patios with all of life’s ‘feel good’ factors. Embracing everything from contemporary sculptures to works with a sense of history, timelessness, humour, elegance and even a note of nostalgia, YardArt Designs has come a long way in eight years. After operating a local business for 20 years, Tricia and Gilbert Joe, wanted a change of scene and pace. “We wanted something that was fun and as I’m the gardener in the family I felt this was an area I could really enjoy,” says Tricia. And for the past eight years she has revelled in developing the centre, initially starting with a small range of contemporary garden art. But soon artists were asking Tricia to sell on their behalf and today she deals with some 45 artists whose work is available through YardArt. More recently, the company also

took over Phoenix Italia and now manufactures that classic range providing customers with even more flexibility and choices. However, Tricia admits that thoughts of swapping a seven-day business for something with fewer hours didn’t quite work out that way. “Yes, we are open seven days but it’s so nice dealing with the public and helping customers find a piece which is just right for them. And that’s the joy of YardArt. “If a customer likes a piece but wants it bigger or smaller or a different colour, we can usually oblige. One of our staff even custom-builds orders such as gates, pergolas, wishing wells, letter boxes and more. “A lot of customers just bring in a sketch and, usually, he can make the same.” Tricia adds she is often asked for the extraordinary and customers are surprised how often she can find it. “We’ve managed to supply quite a few old dinghies for garden features, an old windmill, wagon wheels, Totara posts and battens fashioned into art, even a fantastic water-worn piece of driftwood that stood over a metre high and looked just like an old anchor!” Tricia adds her team are accus-

The Billy Goat’s Gruff crossing troll’s bridge at YardArt Designs. tomed to coming up with the almost impossible. “We’ve had requests to create water features out of existing garden features and even made a large pirate ship cut from corrugated iron. It was to sit on a back wall with a treasure chest and related pieces all back-lit at night. Whatever the request we will do our best to create it.” In addition to a wonderland of garden sculpture, YardArt Design also carries hard-landscaping and Living Earth products as well as the HotSpring range of quality spas – something Tricia can personally rec-

ommend. “We have one at home and I use it several times a week. There’s nothing like it for relaxing after a long day in the garden or at work. “But if anyone is thinking about a spa come and talk to us. We will give them really sound advice about purchasing a spa, testing before buying and ensuring wise buying.” And to celebrate YardArt Designs’ eighth birthday Tricia has some great on site specials. Check them out at: YardArt Designs, Crown Rd, Paerata (Pukekohe) Ph (09) 238 9039




35 years working with Hinuera Stone. We offer a full supply and lay service, plus additional services: • Stone cleaning • Sealing and grinding • Restoration work

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Rural Living — October 2012 — 19

pest control

Cute hog or dreaded land-kina? By Ditch Keeling Coastal Pest Solutions Ltd The official predator control season starts this month and runs until March next year. Ferrets, stoats, weasels, rats and hedgehogs are all extremely mobile during the summer months and they can all have a significant impact on both native and farmed wildlife. Effective predator control will often result in a fantastic increase in birdlife in your area and if you have chooks or eggs vanishing overnight you can bet one of these guys will be responsible. One very important predator that is often overlooked is the European hedgehog. I’m aware that they do have their fans – many people consider them very cute and even more appreciate the free insect control around the garden. However, from a conservation viewpoint, they are yet another introduced predator that has flourished in New Zealand and can be directly attributed to the demise of many critically endangered species. Hedgehogs are a surprisingly effective predator and probably the most abundant and least recognised pest in New Zealand. It’s not until you start predator control that you realise just how many hedgehogs are out there; in all of my years of predator trap-

Ditch with a neat trick for sexing hedgehogs during research on Motutapu Island. (This one’s a boy! ping for species protection with DOC, hedgehogs were by far the most common captures every season from the shoreline to the ridge tops. Hedgehogs are, in many ways, the ultimate predator. They have a nose better than your average drug dog, they are truly omnivorous (will hunt and eat everything in sight!), are excellent breeders (most females producing 4-7 young and often twice each year), are strong swimmers and climbers and, to top it off, nothing else eats them. Vehicle strike on public roads

accounts for thousands of deaths each year but the reality is that our hedgehog population is huge beyond belief. It is absolutely essential that we add them to our traditional suite of targeted predators if we are to begin reducing their impact on our native invertebrates, lizards and frogs, Kauri snails and all ground-nesting birds. Fortunately, hedgehogs are not hard to trap and this is largely due to the huge distances they travel each night and the fact that almost anything edible will attract them. Standard predator trapping that targets ferrets, stoats, weasels and rats will always catch a lot of hedgehogs and given what we now know about them it seems that a hedgehog in a trap is every bit as important as a stoat. Effectively catching predators is fairly straight forward once you have the traps in place and with traps only requiring checking and re-baiting once every week or so, the labour requirements are minimal considering the huge benefits. The best traps to use for this work are the DOC series Kill traps (see While these come in three sizes, the middle size (DOC200) is by far the most commonly used. The big 250 is specifically designed for situations where large numbers of ferrets are present. All DOC series traps come

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housed in robust timber tunnels and are double-baffled with mesh to keep out non-target species and pets. ■■ Trap spacing: All predators tend to have incredibly large home ranges (40-256ha). As a good starting point, place traps C.200m apart. On properties of up to 10 acres, one to four traps is often all that is required to catch all predators that are passing through. ■■ Trap Placement: Set traps on well-defined linear edges, fence lines, track edges, pasture/forest margins, natural intersection features, stream edges and near the chook house are all great starting points. Trapping these features tends to catch more predators and makes traps easier to service. ■■ Baits: Most meat or fish products will work to some degree but a really effective combination is a hen’s egg and a piece of fresh rabbit replaced weekly. It’s always a good idea to rub a piece of fresh rabbit on natural features leading to the trap, and on the trap itself as this will help attract animals passing through your area. Predator trapping can be a lot of fun, but be sure to get around traps once a week to avoid having to deal with excessively decayed victims. Please help us to provide the advice you require by sending all pest animal questions to:

Rabbit Control is fast, efficient and achievable

Coastal Pest Solutions are working in your community – trapping, shooting, poisoning and dog work. Non toxic rabbit control is available.

Protect your land and environment from all animal pests, call us today!

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“Kill” Ferrets, Possum, Rats and Rabbits “Dead” Philproof bait feeders are the answer Two sizes, standard and mini available

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Possum/Rat/Rabbit bait stations • Specially developed to protect bait from rain and to protect blockages which can occur in other bait stations. Waterproof • The preferred bait station used by professional pest control agencies Large Philproof is ideal for baiting Rabbits Also available Rodent Bait Stations, Block Baits, Timms traps, Rodent Snap traps (prices available on request).

Target Species Rabbits & Possums

Ferret/Stoat trap covers • Specifically designed to cover MK 4 or MK 6 Fenn (kill) traps • Narrow entrance guides the ferret/stoat over centre of trigger plate • Stockproof • Available in single or double models • Made from recycled plastic • MK 4, great rat trap ex UK

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*Remember to include your courier or RD address

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TRAPINATOR – WALKERS A revolutionary possum trap, a new design as a result of 2 years consultation with DOC. A better, more effective, light weight and easy to use trap, that anyone can set. For use wherever possums are present - and it is toxin free. From the manufacturers of the DOC series 100, 200 & 250 traps. Meets Nawac humane standards.

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PEST CONTROL • Insects & rodents • Domestic & commercial • Consultancy work

YOU NAME IT – WE’LL KILL IT! Controlling your pests for 18 years Phone 238 9885 Mobile 0274 789 857 Main Highway, Paerata



20 — Rural Living — October 2012



Mazda CX-5 sensible? Yes and no By Alistair Davidson




Shane Blair

Unit 12/4 Kellow Pl, Manukau City Ph 262 3588, or 021 912 187

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SUVs are what car enthusiasts love to hate. It’s like saying ‘hey, my life is over, I have a mortgage and kids and pets and responsibilities. Forget having fun, it’s time to get sensible’. So what do you buy? A big sucker in case more kids arrive? A small two-wheel drive that looks like a four-wheel drive because who really needs four-wheel drive? Or a midsize five-door that does a lot of things,

but none particularly well? Thankfully, fellow driving enthusiasts, all is not lost. There’s a pair of daytime running lights at the end of the tunnel that’s called mid-life gloom and doom, and they’re attached to the front of a Mazda CX-5. All-new CX-5 with ‘Skyactiv’ technology is a revelation. Here’s a SUV that’s enjoyable to drive; its suspension is taut, the steering actually has feel and provides feedback, and the ride is firm without being uncomfy. The good news continues under the bonnet. Times Motoring spent a week

with the most excellent range-topping Limited all-wheel drive diesel. This technologically advanced diesel (you couldn’t use those three words in the same sentence a few years ago) has a ridiculously low compression ratio. Without going into all the boring details, this enabled Mazda’s boffins to use a lighter engine block; the engine’s internals are a lot less stressed, and it improves fuel consumption and emissions. Smooth and responsive (and pretty darn quiet), the oil burner pops out 129kW, and more importantly a hefty 420Nm of torque at 2000rpm.

Put your foot down and the thing takes off, and in-gear acceleration (when overtaking etcetera) is impressive. The transmission is a six-speed automatic with manual shift mode. Mazda quietly dropped its CX-7 (smaller brother to the bigger CX-9) and I can understand why. CX-5 is virtually the same size inside as the 9, and its styling is better. Understated and classy, the surprisingly roomy interior lacks garish and gimmicky brightwork. Everything’s where it’s meant to be, the controls are intuitive and the touchy-feely test suggests quality as well as quantity.

Stylish 19-inch alloy wheels with grippy 225/55 tyres are standard fare.

31 10 12 *Price shown excludes associated on road costs. Offers not available in conjunction with any other special offer. Offer valid till 31/10/12.


Rural Living — October 2012 — 21

motoring Visit New Zealand’s


Above: All-wheel drive is on demand, with torque automatically delivered to where it’s needed most.

Right: Dual-zone climate air, sunroof, heated seats, CX-5 has it all. Times photos Alistair Davidson

A TomTom navigation system tells you where you’re going; a trip computer tells you where you’ve been; and an awesome Bose sound system keeps you entertained when you’re doing it. Mazda’s on to a winner with CX-5, but don’t take my word for it. A mate just bought one, and he immediately stuck a post on his Interbook Faceweb thingy: “I’m in love. With my new CX-5”. And he hasn’t reached middle age, and he hasn’t got family.

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Quantity? Yes indeedy, CX-5 Limited has all the creature comforts and safety features you’d find in a high-spec Euro, and they’re not extra-cost options. Sure, at five bucks shy of $60k the CX-5 is right up there as far as mid-size SUVs go, yet it represents real value for money. There’s not enough space to go into the gory details, suffice to say there’s full leather trim, a blind-spot warning system and everything in between.



22 — Rural Living — October 2012




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Rural Living — October 2012 — 23


Acacia Cove is a country-style village situated on the beautiful Wattle Downs Peninsula.

Who could ask for more? For those who appreciate the tranquility of an estuary setting Acacia Cove has it all, as well as its own restaurant, heated indoor pool, library, bowling green and new gym. Whether you choose to live in a villa or one of our luxurious apartments, you’ll have the security of a 24 hour, fully monitored emergency call system built in. If you’re aged 55 or over, value your independence but want greater security, come and have a look at the superb properties we have to offer. A right to occupy dwelling at Acacia Cove Village is unsecured.

Wattle Farm Road, Wattle Downs, Manurewa Ph 268 8522 • Fax 268 8422


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24 — Rural Living — October 2012


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