Te Matarae Farm – Katrina And Oscar Nilsson

To the clouds, the Chathams, and beyond

The advent of ‘the cloud’ means that distance is now no barrier to working with anyone anywhere in the world. But being able to eyeball your advisor, at least once a year, helps cement a relationship, and for us, trust and integrity in our relationships is paramount. Which is why we’re prepared to travel for that face to face, even to the Chatham Islands.

Late last year, directors Hamish Pringle and Ben Gilmour spent five days exploring Chatham Island and spending time with new clients, Katrina and Oscar Nilsson.

The young couple purchased Te Matarae Farm, a 956-acre sheep and beef farm, there in June last year. Having moved from Sydney to run it, they very quickly identified that they wanted help at a better price than the previous owner’s South Island based firm, and turned to Ben Gilmour at Moore Stephens Markhams Hawkes Bay, who has set them up on cloud-based Xero and the rural-specialised Figured accounting programmes.

A seventh generation Chatham Islander, Katrina says she was surprised to find herself living back there but says it’s great to “own our own block of dirt” and with a young daughter and baby on the way, is pleased to be around her family.  Husband Oscar was a finance broker in Sydney. He comes from a Hawke’s Bay farming family, and feels at home, working on the land.

So much so that Katrina observes that Oscar has become “allergic to computers”, preferring to be outside instead, leaving her to work on most of the day to day financial side of affairs. Although not a stranger to Xero, as the couple have other business interests that use the software, Katrina says it’s been brilliant having Ben at the end of the phone.

“For the first months, we had no internet connection and getting it was quite a process, so being able to phone Ben with my many questions has been great. He’s been awesome,” says Katrina.  “Now that we’re online and caught up, the accounting side has become a lot easier.

I’m looking forward to sitting down at the end of the first year and going over the reports with him.”

For Ben, the fact that he can access the financial information in real time, at the same time as Katrina means he can provide timely, relevant advice based on the current position.

While the Nilssons are concentrating on getting established and ready for the new baby, they are keen to develop other business opportunities in the future.

Hamish Pringle describes the farm that borders the vast expanse of the Te Whanga Lagoon, as “beautiful, well cleared but windswept; they’re definitely battling the elements”. In addition, the remoteness adds further challenges, with almost everything required for the farming operation needing to be ‘imported’.  Likewise, all produce is freighted off, with the cost to transport stock between $15 and $25 per animal.  And with shipping and air freight opportunities limited, the Islanders need to be savvy forward planners to secure the bookings they need.

During their stay, Hamish and Ben met many of the locals, enjoying their open friendliness, and were treated to a day out on a commercial crayfish boat, as well as exploring Moriori cultural sites and visiting nature reserves.

Published autumn 2017.

The Chatham Islands, Rekohu Wharekauri

Situated in the South Pacific, about 800km east of Christchurch and 40 minutes ahead of mainland time, the Chatham Islands are New Zealand’s most easterly region. An archipelago of 11 islands, only Pitt and Chatham are inhabited, by about 600 people. The last major Pacific Islands to be settled, the Chatham Islands are believed to have been first occupied by Polynesians 800 to 1000 years ago, who became a people calling themselves Moriori. European discovery was in 1791 by the English ship, HMS Chatham with early European settlers dating from the 1800s. Later Ngati Tama and Ngati Mutunga arrived, naming the islands Wharekauri.  Descendants of all now make up the population.

Serious about your success?