An interview with Alistair and Amanda

Taranaki farmer Alistair Jordan
Taranaki farmer Alistair Jordan

Alistair is a farmer who lives near German Hill, and is in the 60+ age bracket
My parents milked 55 cows when I was a child. We spent hours and hours mucking around the river right up until I was 15-16 years old. My Grandfather was a keen trout fisherman; I loved spending time with him. The river was always recreational when we were children, fishing, eeling, making boats or kayaking- it’s all fenced off now and not as easy for the children or grandchildren to get access.

Amanda is 38 and the daughter of Alistair
We had a favourite waterhole not far from our house when I was a child on the farm. We did a lot of eeling. We tried not to eel where we swam, our younger sister was frightened of eels and wouldn’t swim where we had seen eels… we had a lot of eeling holes. We would eel off our farm bridge and check the lines every hour when we had friends over. Every minute of the holidays we would spend in or by the river. We had a separate place we would swim our horses too.

We started fencing rivers decades ago; initially we got prisoners to help plant the first trees and flaxes. It became a project. Back then we bought in plants from outside, but now we find that if we fence off an area the native bush comes back. I don’t need to plant out – just give it time. We started fencing off the rivers to protect the banks and keep the stock out of the rivers. The water levels can rise very quickly after heavy rain. It can be very dangerous for fishermen, but it equally goes down quickly.

The streams are nicely covered with trees and it is very pleasurable to go walking by the streams and rivers. We are doing a lot to protect our rivers. I wish the people nearer the coast all did the same – some parts of the river have no cover.

What does the river mean to me? The rivers are beautiful, I love them, but they are a curse too due to the compliance. We want to do the best for our rivers, but we do need to know what the best is for the water quality.

I love them, I love walking the rivers with my children, but all of this (publicity over dirty dairying) is taking the specialness away because we are being told that we are not doing the best.

Cows grazing by riparian planting
Cows grazing by riparian planting