Ruamāhanga Farm Foundation

Learning from Land, River and Community

Who We Are

Ruamāhanga Farm Foundation is a community oriented wetland and riparian forest restoration project started in 2021 by Liz, Jane and Lucy Riddiford and Rod Sugden. Eight hectares of Land on Ruamāhanga Farm near Martinborough has been fenced and stock excluded. With the help of local volunteers and schools we have introduced native plants eco sourced from the Wairarapa. We are delivering education activities for local schools and associated health walks for the wider community.

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Though our contributions we endeavour to:

  • Support nature / taiao connection as a foundation for growing community
  • Improve the health of the Ruamāhanga River and surrounding whenua
  • Encourage other landowners in the vicinity of the southern end of the Ruamāhanga river, and all the way down to the Wairarapa Moana, to adopt practices that restore wetlands.
  • Add to the green corridor for birds flying between the Remutaka and the Aorangi Ranges

We are grateful to be involved with the Tangata Whenua, Greater Wellington Regional Council, Trees that Count , the South Wairarapa Biodiversity Group and the Ruamahanga Restoration Trust. Their guidance and support is helping us understand what it might mean for us as a family to let parts of the land embrace the wider domain of the river.

Mauri oho volunteers Cushla Murphy and John Mullany

Artists

To help us on our way, a number of artists are collaborating with us and generously donating work.

In 2023 we successfully auctioned Michael Moore’s three sided ‘sliver’ paintings, “The Three Sisters” and “tī kōuka Grove” and a Green Dunny was installed. See more.

This year, 2024, Jenny Keate is donating the proceeds of four Ruamāhanga Paintings from her Looking Sideways Exhibition, which was initially shown at Aratoi Art and History Museum in Masterton. The four paintings will be posted soon on our website – watch this space. Please email us if you are interested in buying one and supporting our work.

Michael Moore Paintings

Two, three sided ‘sliver’ paintings, “The Three Sisters” and “tī kōuka Grove”

“Ti Kouka Grove”

“The Three Sisters”

Dimensions 1050 mm x 50 mm x 50 mm each and painted on three sides.
Acrylic on canvas on cedar. Sold

Michael Moore’s acrylic and oil paintings appear in private and public collections around the world. He has exhibited nationally for almost 30 years, and in 2022 he was invited to exhibit in the Beehive. Through his painting, Michael aims to express his deep connection to the New Zealand landscape. For more about his work, visit his website here. 

Latest From Our Blog

Te Reo o te Wai – First Steps

Te Reo o te Wai – First Steps

Words by Jane Riddiford As I walk through the Ruamāmahanga farm wetland on one of those wonderful misty mornings, that the Wairarapa specialises in, my niece Rosa, who is a primary school teacher, asks me. “What do you hope will happen over the next 20 years?” We have...

Unexpected Extravaganza

Unexpected Extravaganza

Written by Jane Riddiford As we picked our way through the cow pats, I heard beside me a small but confident voice, “those calves look in good condition, fat and very shiny”. This was Wilson, a year four pupil from Kahutara School , one of the local primary schools...

My why

My why

Words by Lucy Riddiford As I drive along the road from Martinborough to Ruamāhanga Farm, I look to the right at Jenkins Dip and see with pride the trees that we planted last winter, all carefully tucked up in their tree guards, cleared and encircled with sheep dags to...

Dead or Alive

Dead or Alive

Words by Jane Riddiford At first it’s depressing and disheartening; “It can’t be, something must have survived,” I think. My pace slows and now in detective mode I scan the long grasses with more intent. Barely distinguishable from the brown reeds and grasses, I see a...

Growing Community

Growing Community

by Jane Riddiford After days of struggling with the sweltering heat and worrying about how quickly the ground was drying out the rain gods finally came and it chucked down. I was looking out from our verandah and could feel the sunflowers in the paddock in front of...

Voices of the Ruamāhanga

Voices of the Ruamāhanga

Written by Jane Riddiford My visits to the river have changed of late. I look at the recently planted understory in the old tī kōuka grove and am reminded of the many young hands from Martinborough school that eagerly carried piles of sheep dags to mulch around the...

Planting Dreams

Planting Dreams

Written by Yvonne Riddiford Spring is moving into summer and there is a big push on to finish the last of the planting for the year. Thanks to Project Crimson’s Trees that Count scheme we have more plants at our disposal at any one time than I have ever experienced....

Young Voices

Young Voices

We have been seeing how the things we say and the stories we tell, when connected to the rhythms and patterns of nature can have unexpected ripples that travel far and wide. As described in the previous blog we worked with fourteen, year 6, 7 and 8 tamariki from Te...

An Ever Expanding Web

An Ever Expanding Web

by Jane Riddiford Several years ago when the vision for Ruamāhanga Mauri Oho was barely an idea, we took my mother Yvonne to Waihinga bush, now set aside as a QE11 covenant by Pete Smith, whose family have farmed there since the 1840’s. This is one of the most notable...

River, Mountain and Sea

River, Mountain and Sea

Written by Jane Riddiford Catching the train to Wellington, I remember to look up and catch a last glimpse of the Wairarapa Moana before we head into the tunnel that takes us through the heart of the Remutaka’s. I had just come from our weekly te reo class. We began...

The Turning of the Wheel

The Turning of the Wheel

Written by Yvonne Riddiford Celebrating my 98th birthday provided an opportunity to reflect on aspects of time and changing attitudes towards land. Without a doubt the involvement with my daughters over the years has given me a different perspective on our...

A Story About Wood

A Story About Wood

For the last few weeks I have been scrubbing mātai floorboards that will go into our new house. The boards are marked with paint splatters and black dots that I imagine come from the stiletto shoes of country women dressed up in swirling skirts alongside men with...

In the Footsteps of Shared Commitment

In the Footsteps of Shared Commitment

We had a heartening visit a few weeks ago from the trustees of the Ruamahanga Restoration Trust. As we walked down to the river and shared tea in the ti kouka grove It was encouraging to feel so much shared ground as we explored how we can support and compliment each...

Calming of the Waters

Calming of the Waters

It was late at night and my mind was racing. I could hear the sound of Rod on the piano at the other end of the house and heavy rain falling on our tin roof. Yet again the waters of our river would be rising and all became uncertain again. How do we prepare for...

Finding Our Way

Finding Our Way

It was back in 2021 that the shared vision that has become Mauri oho began to emerge between my sisters Liz and Lucy, my husband Rod, our mother Yvonne and myself. As I began to research how to begin a wetland restoration project all roads seemed to lead to Rawiri...