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Noble Family Land Gift A Once-in-a-lifetime Opportunity For Community

Noble Family Land (Photo:Supplied)

More than 100ha of farmland and native bush have been gifted to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council by community stalwart Ian Noble and his family – a gesture that marks the legacy of a man heavily involved in the past, present and future of the region’s environmental wellbeing.

Located at the end of Hot Springs Road in Katikati, the land is adjacent to and includes a section of the Te Rereatukahia Forest at the base of the Kaimai-Mamaku Forest. It is home to several mature and endangered native bush species, and includes streams and creeks that feed into the Te Mania Stream. Collectively, this makes it a unique and ecologically significant piece of land in the Western Bay district.

Regional Council Chair Doug Leeder says the council is grateful to the Noble family for entrusting them with the future of this land and the family legacy.

“Land of this size and scale, that contains numerous significant ecological attributes, is a rarity. We sincerely thank Mr Noble for this generous opportunity and for recognising the contributing role Regional Council can play in helping protect it for future generations to come.”

Mr Noble says he believes caring for the environment is “common sense” – an approach that has motivated many decisions throughout his life, including during his 24 years as a Regional Councillor and five years as provincial president for the Bay of Plenty Federated Farmers.

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While ensuring the land is preserved and respected is a priority, it is also the family’s wish to see the land enjoyed by local communities for recreation (such as trails for walking and running), as well as outdoor education.

For Mr Noble, who received a Queen’s Service Medal in 2015 for his services to farming and the community, it’s a way to give back to the people and place that have supported him.

“It has been a privilege to farm in the Western Bay of Plenty over the last 60 years. As a family, we have seen significant changes, and it has been an honour to be part of a number of them.

“Community is what supports you to make things happen. You can’t do it alone”.

One of Mr Noble’s biggest supporters was his late wife Joyce, without whom, he says, none of this could have happened.

“She did great things for the community in her own right, always making herself available to help others. I’m incredibly proud of her for all the support she gave our family and those around her.”

At a Regional Council meeting on Thursday 9 May, councillors moved to accept the gift, noting the Noble family’s wishes to ensure the land remains undeveloped, its natural features are looked after, and community access can be continued.

To support this, a QEII National Trust open space covenant will be registered on the property’s title to forever guarantee its protection.

QEII National Trust Chair Alan Livingston says the Trust recognises opportunities like this don’t happen every day.

"This is why we are keen to work alongside Regional Council and the Noble family.

“Our covenant will satisfy Ian’s wish of permanent legal protection over the property, to preserve and enhance the property’s significant biodiversity and ensure the landscape is protected for future generations.”

In the short term, Regional Council will complete a programme of work that includes pest plant and animal control, additional native planting, and fencing to exclude stock from waterways. This will enhance the existing biodiversity, support improved water quality in the catchment and increase carbon sequestration.

Long term, the Noble family would like to see the property turned into a Regional Park for continued public enjoyment of the area. However, any future Regional Council decisions on this are subject to the outcome of Long Term Plan deliberations, which are currently happening, and its adoption by June 30.

Western Bay of Plenty District Council Mayor James Denyer says Mr Noble’s gift is an asset to the Western Bay community.

“Mr Noble has been incredibly generous in gifting this land to the community. The future potential of this area and its stunning views over Tauranga Moana is exciting, and we look forward to supporting efforts to make this a special place that everyone can enjoy.”

As his time farming in the Western Bay of Plenty comes to an end, Mr Noble says he’s honoured to be able to leave behind a legacy like this.

“It has been a huge privilege to work with many committed and knowledgeable people over years to the benefit of the greater Bay of Plenty.”

Background information on Ian Noble:

Ian Noble: Farmer, family man and community supporter (Photo:Supplied)

Ian Noble: Farmer, family man and community supporter

From a young age, Mr Ian Noble has had a penchant for the outdoors and the environment.

Born in Morrinsville, he was the third of four sons. His journey into farming began young, when the family moved to the Bay of Plenty and father Bert built the family homestead (which included two dairy herds and a market garden) on Kauri Point Road, Katikati.

As well as working on, and then running, part of the family farm after he left school, Ian has also owned and operated several of his own properties – including the property at Hot Springs Road, Katikati. The land was originally cleared by two brothers, who leased it from the government, before the war. When they never returned, the paddocks were left and became overgrown.

As a proud owner, Ian invested time and effort into making sure the paddocks were clear, while leaving the rest of the native bush untouched. In recent years, the land has been used to graze cattle and the Noble family have also lent out portions of the land to local community groups (such as horse riders, bow hunters and the local pistol club).

During his time in the Western Bay, Ian has been heavily involved in the farming industry, taking on several influential roles in the community. This includes Federated Farmers, where he was Katikati branch chairman, chair of the dairy section and, later, provincial president for the Bay of Plenty.

He was a Bay of Plenty Regional Council councillor for 24 years, as well as a Western Bay of Plenty District Council councillor for three years. During these tenures, he served on a range of council committees and played an instrumental role in progressing an array of environmental and infrastructure initiatives that will endure for generations to come. He was also founding member of the Bay of Plenty agricultural advisory committee.

Ian represented our local community at a national level, appointed as a New Zealand Arbitrator (Trees and Powerlines), a role he held for 23 years.

In 2015, his services to farming and the community were recognised as part of the New Year Honours List and he received a Queen’s Service Medal, presented by then Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae.

Despite his long list of achievements, Ian is a firm believer that no-one can do what they do on their own. That’s why he says that if it wasn’t for his late wife Joyce and her support, none of this would have happened. Together with their children, Jill, Pauline, Kathryn and Graeme, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, they have supported each other on their life journey.

“Without the support of many good people over the years, nationally and within the Bay of Plenty, I could not have represented and enjoyed a fulfilling life."

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