DU directors in the news – for good reasons
Two DU directors, John Dermer and Dan Steele made the news this year,
both appearing in mainly rural papers, and both for very good reasons.
Dan Steele - Conservation and tourism with farming
Dan Steele is the main driving force behind Blue Duck Station, central North Island, with the Retaruke River close by and Whanganui National Park on the boundary, it is the ideal place for a conservation minded man and his family.
The 1440ha station the cattle and sheep are important, but looking after the environment is always foremost in the running of the property. As a committed conservationist and a committed Ducks Unlimited member birds, particularly Whio (Blue Ducks), receive special care.
By allowing 800ha of land to regenerate, the bird life is returning along with the regeneration of the bush. There are 450 predator traps in use, water quality in streams and rivers has improved, and bird numbers continue to increase. Kereru and tui in particular, plus there are brown kiwi, native bats, and native fish.
Dan and his family, and his parents living next door, are all keen on seeing the conservation side increase. Young visitors from around the world are welcome at Blue Duck Station, where they are known as Eco Warriors, helping with the conservation programme jobs that take time and they get educated along the way.
But it is not only the backpackers who head for Blue Duck Station, Dan has built accommodation, and tourists are welcome. Hunting, horse-trekking, kayaking, hiking and even bush safaris are offered.
Dan has been a director of DUNZ for some time now, and has recently taken over the important role of auctioneer for fund raising at the annual DU AGM.
John Dermer – the ultimate Farm Forrester
John and Diny Dermer were this year named as the North Island’s top farm foresters. They both love trees, and their farm at Cheltenham near Feilding reflects the attention that has been put into enhancing the landscape with a wide variety of native and exotic trees.
Selected as top forester in the North Island, John received a Husqvarna chainsaw. The foresters are tested on their tree knowledge, along with how well their trees are planted and managed.
John, a long time director of DUNZ, is obviously also keen on the birds. Ponds and nesting places are available around the farm. He is always on the lookout for yet another spot to be turned into a haven for water fowl. The trees, radiata pine, cypress, redwood and eucalyptus are mostly planted on land that would be difficult to farm effectively. Many older trees including large oaks and several large fruit trees in the original old orchard show the love of trees was encouraged long ago.
The Dermers also grow cereal cash crops, do bull finishing, lamb finishing and run a small ewe breeding flock. Oh – and there are turkey’s that have the freedom of the farm.
Diny also maintains a large number of hens, and several Peking ducks. Diny keeps the garden in order and has several citrus trees including an orange, grapefruit and several lemon trees always covered in fruit. They do well around the house. There are also several camellias. But Diny is also the extra farm hand, and is often to be found out on the tractor or helping in the wool shed.