The Muirs are a household name in Waiuku when it comes to the environment and conservation.
Stu and Kim have been restoring the wetlands on their 400 hectare dairy farm for the last six years, however, Stu says that he has been involved in environment conservation since he was ‘old enough to weild a chainsaw.’
They have recently been recognised on Predator Free NZ for trapping over 200 stoats, ferrets and weasels on their property. Two weeks ago, they wrapped up filming for the first episode in season three of ‘Thinking Forward,’ a the newly established television series, which showcases inspirational businesses and distills their insights into real world learning that encourage and inform.
Frontlined by Sarah Miskell, Director of Campbell Tyson, the Muir’s were able to showcase their life story so far, how they have achieved a healthy relationship between dairy farming and conservation, and the plans for future projects.
“What we do is all for education and preservation of our natural waterways. To be able to share our message across any platform is fantastic,” says Stu.
Sarah Miskell says she was excited to catch up with the Muirs.
“The Muirs are quite remarkable with what they have achieved. I have heard so much about them and to actually see it for myself was inspiring. We are really looking forward to sharing their story with the nation once we finish filming.”
The farm is located in the heart of Aka Aka, with Kim and Stu’s children, Lexi, Taite, Sandy and Hazel, being the sixth generation to have been brought up on the land.
The Post Newspaper last caught up with the Muirs a year ago, when they had nearly finished creating 20 whitebait spawning ponds in what was originally described as a ‘stagnant cesspool swamp.’
With the help of a grant from the Waikato River Authority (a joint Iwi and crown organisation set up to clean up the Waikato River and its tributaries), Stu spent hundreds of volunteer hours to plant around 40,000 plants in the wetlands, along with another 8500 plants at a fenced off sand dune lake on another family property.
“There was no tidal flow, and we really need to take more care of our waterways for future sustainability. Now, our wetlands actually work, and the birdlife we have here is just amazing.”
Additional funding for their wetland projects comes from Te Papa Eco Cottage, an off-grid luxury bed and breakfast cottage which Stu and Kim built completely from recycled materials found either on the farm or locally. Set above the wetland with ‘awesome evening views,’ Stu puts 15 percent of all Te Papa Eco Cottage profits towards the wetland restoration.
However, their focus is now turning to raising the awareness of conservation. The family are currently raising funds for a bridge to allow access for the public to be educated about the importance and methods of restoring and maintaining wetlands.
“With support from local iwi and schools, we would like to open our work to the wider community, particularly focusing on schools within the wider Auckland and Waikato region. At the moment there is no direct connectivity between the restoration sites and a bridge would not only help in our ongoing endeavours but give the public a greater learning experience.”
A give-a-little page has been set up to help with the project, which can be found via here: givealittle.co.nz/cause/fightingforwhitebait
“Education is the key to help maintain and preserve our environment, and the kids that we have had out here so far are just so engaged. Some have never even been in the country before. At the end of the day, what we are doing is going to benefit the community and wildlife in the future.”
CAPTION: Sarah Miskell, (centre) presenter of the Thinking Forward TV series, was able to catch up with the Muirs and hear about the conservation and restoration projects for the latest series to be aired later this year. From Left: Kim, daughter, Hazel, Sarah Miskell, Stu and son, Sandy.