Since he could walk Hamish de Lautour worked at Te Whangai, the property that has been owned by the de Lautours for three generations. The first twenty years were part-time investments with the last couple decades a full-time adventure.
Hamish and Wynne de Lautour farm 1700ha in Central/Southern Hawkes Bay in partnership with their son Harry. Harry now manages the operation with his wife Kate and one-year-old Archie.
The climate is generally mild with hot dry summers but the occasional snowfall in winter. We winter about 12,000 sheep and 400 cattle. An increasing part of the business is developing Romney genetics and they currently sell 6-700 2th rams.
Hamish’s role is now mostly as a general hand and doing stud sales and marketing.
Wynne helps with the administration and provides the essential backup required to make things run smoothly behind the scenes.
On Farming and Wool
Hamish gives us a glimpse of his everyday life when he shares some of his favourite moments on the farm.
“Early morning mustering when the dogs are behaving and the dawn chorus of native birds is in full cry. It is hard to beat experiencing the sunrise while healthy contented livestock drift away out of the paddock,” he says.
He goes on to list, “watching healthy fat sheep being shorn, when the wool almost melts off them revealing the clean pink look of being freshly shorn. And occasionally being in the right place at the right time to see a ewe give birth to a pair of healthy offspring and having a few minutes to marvel at how quickly they get to their feet.”
However, it is not just the act of farming that inspires him. It is the product his sheep produce.
“Wool is said to be the most complex natural fibre, capable of a multitude of miraculous feats,” he says. “When faced with the choice of using oil sucked from the earth to make products that can be nothing short of deadly in a fire and freezing when wet or a 100% natural fibre that will grow over and over again on the same animal, keep you naturally warm even when wet and totally protect you in case of fire, the answer is so simple….it has to be wool.”
On Primary Wool Co-operative
Hamish believes Primary Wool’s greatest achievement in recent times has been its ability to stay viable for its members through the very dark days of rock bottom wool prices and the political fallout following the disestablishment of the wool board.
The co-operative not only survived but thrived, all the while investing heavily in what the co-op has always believed will lift returns: getting closer to our consumers. We have accomplished that with our joint venture partners in Just Shorn, NZ Yarn, and Hushaberry.
He is proud of what the co-operative is doing to improve the industry.
“Our hope for the NZ wool industry is that it can be returned to being the respected and cherished industry it once was. By being a profitable land use sheep numbers will grow therefore creating much needed employment in the provinces and with grower to retailer relationship building we would see manufacturing being competitive in New Zealand again and therefore even more jobs.”