The first step for the economic use of the area around Cape Runaway was taken by a pioneer from Napier. Around 1890 Mr. Cartwright Brown decided to find his fortune in the until then very untouched area.
Mr. Brown leased a block of bush near the Maori settlement of Whangaparaoa. He began to clear the bush by fire to make the land arable. Shortly afterwards (1894) he bought another block, today’s Waikura to add to his land holdings. This was the beginning of the agricultural development of these remote areas. In the following years, other adventurers followed Mr. Brown’s footsteps, so that further farms (Mohau, Rewetu, Pakira, Mataroa) were established.
Due to the remoteness of these farms it was a risky and tedious undertaking. In the early days the only way getting from the farms to the coast was through the riverbeds. Further travel away from the Cape to Gisborne or other larger towns was only by sea. The sea route was also crucial for the economic upswing of the region.
In the following years the farms often changed hands. The work was hard and repeatedly interrupted by earthquakes, bush fires and storms.
There had been four phases of the development of these “stations”.
1910-1920: huge optimism and extensive clearing of bush
1920-1935: rapid decline in soil fertility and economic downturn
1935-1955: New start, with conservative management
1955-1995: modern fertilizer from the air, and booming production
In 2012 the farms Waikura, Pakira, Rewetu and Mohau were consolidated under new ownership. In 2014 and 2016 Waitangirua and Te Kumi were added.