A noble gift from farmer to community

An aerial view of more than 100ha of farmland and native bush that have been gifted to BOPRC by the Noble family. Photo: supplied.

More than 100ha of farmland and native bush has been gifted to Bay of Plenty Regional Council by community stalwart and farmer Ian Noble and his family - a gesture that marks the legacy of a man heavily involved in the past, present and future of the region’s environmental wellbeing.

Located at the end of Hot Springs Rd in Katikati, the land is adjacent to and includes a section of the Te Rereatukahia Forest at the base of the Kaimāī-Mamaku Forest.

It is home to several mature and endangered native bush species, and includes streams and creeks that feed into the Te Mania Stream.

Collectively, they make it a unique and ecologically significant piece of land in the Western BOP district.

Regional council chairman Doug Leeder says the council is grateful to the Noble family for entrusting it with the future of this land and the family legacy.

“Land of this size and scale, that contains numerous significant ecological attributes, is a rarity.

“We sincerely thank Mr Noble for this generous opportunity and for recognising the contributing role the regional council can play in helping protect it for future generations to come.”

Ian and his farming

So who is Ian Noble? Born in Morrinsville, Ian was the third of four sons. His journey into farming began at a young age, when the family moved to the BOP and father Bert built the family homestead — which included two dairy herds and a market garden - in Kauri Point Rd, Katikati.

As well as working on, then running, part of the family farm after he left school, Ian owned and operated several of his own properties - including the Hot Springs Rd property.

The land was originally cleared by two brothers who leased it from the Government before the war. When they never returned, the paddocks were left and became overgrown.

Ian Noble was a BOP regional councillor for 24 years, and Western BOP District councillor for three years. Photo: supplied.

As a proud owner, Ian invested time and effort into making sure the paddocks were clear while leaving the rest of the native bush untouched. In recent years the land has been used to graze cattle and the Noble family have lent out portions to local community groups.

Ian has been heavily involved in the farming industry, with influential roles such as Federated Farmers’ Katikati branch chairman, dairy section chairman, and later BOP provincial president.

He was a BOP regional councillor for 24 years, and Western BOP district councillor for three years.

He’s served on a range of council committees and played an instrumental role in progressing an array of environmental and infrastructure initiatives that will endure for generations to come. He’s also a founding member of the BOP agricultural advisory committee.

Ian believes caring for the environment is “common sense” — an approach that has motivated many decisions throughout his life.

While ensuring the donated Hot Springs Rd land is preserved and respected is a priority, the family’s wish is to see the land enjoyed by local communities via recreation purposes plus outdoor education.

A way to give back

For Ian, who received a Queen’s Service Medal in 2015 for his services to farming and the community, it’s a way to give back to the people and place that have supported him.

“It’s been a privilege to farm in the Western BOP over the last 60 years. As a family, we’ve seen significant changes, and it’s been an honour to be part of a number of them.

“Community is what supports you to make things happen. You can’t do it alone”.

One of Ian’s biggest supporters was his late wife Joyce, without whom, he says, none of this could have happened.

“She did great things for the community in her own right, always making herself available to help others. I’m incredibly proud of her for all the support she gave our family and those around her.”

At a May regional council meeting, councillors moved to accept the gift, noting the Noble family’s wishes to ensure the land remains undeveloped, its natural features are looked after, and community access can be continued.

To support this, a QEII National Trust open space covenant will be registered on the property’s title to forever guarantee its protection.

The Noble family. Photo: supplied.

Regional park

Long term, the Noble family would like to see the property turned into a regional park for continued public enjoyment of the area.

However, any future regional council decisions on this are subject to the outcome of long-term plan deliberations, with the LTP to be adopted by June 30.

As his time farming comes to an end, Ian is honoured to be able to leave behind a legacy such as this. “It’s been a huge privilege to work with many committed and knowledgeable people over years to the benefit of the greater BOP.”


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