For Tane's Rest to become financially sustainable we need to consider our options about how we might generate an income from the property. We have space on the flat valley floor and we have pine trees on the steep slopes.
Logging the pine trees will eventually generate income but not for two more decades. We have unfenced boundaries and no reliable water supply so income from livestock is just not practical. It's easy to see what we can't do. It's harder to see what we can do.
Providing visitor accommodation might be possible but would require significant investment to get going. Kanuka honey from the native forest might be possible but we have no easy access to the main area of the forest to service the number of hives needed to give us volume production. It's easy to see what we could do. It's harder to see what we should do.
What we need is an activity that can generate a financial surplus after costs, can utilise the resources that are easiest to access, can be established with low capital expenditure and can be got going without significant lead time. It also needs to fit with our periodic visits to the property so shouldn't need constant daily work.
Two things seem to satisfy these criteria. The first is to establish a poplar nursery to grow poplar poles for hill country farmers who use them to stabilise steep country and recent slips. Being on the East Cape there is no shortage of that terrain, however, Regional Council's already supply subsidised poplar poles to farmers.
With around five hectares of pine trees that will soon need pruning and thinning, the second is to use the waste pine foliage to extract essential oil using steam distillation. Certainly we have no shortage of wood to heat water to produce steam then once we prove our skills we could diversify to other essential oils. Kanuka immediately springs to mind but increasingly the essential oils of other native plants are also being used. Kawakawa is an example that people are using to craft skincare products.
So maybe poplars and pine needles are the first stepping stones on the journey towards making Tane's Rest financially sustainable. It's easy to see what we should do, now we just have to do it.
This blog is the ongoing story of our piece of paradise on the East Cape we have named Tāne's Rest. Visit our About pages to read more about our project, and feel free to leave a comment on any of our posts.
Uawa County existed for 45 years from 1 December 1918 to 1 April 1964 before merging with Cook County. Click on the map to download a copy.