Early History of Brook Park
Brook Park was part of a 62 hectare (153 acre) property purchased by Mr Colin S. Brook in the 1930's and farmed by him in an innovative and imaginative way for many years.
An article in the N.Z. Journal of Agriculture on 15th June 1939 gave Mr Brook’s experience in the use of electric fencing for sheep and there is no doubt he was one of the very first sheep farmers to use this method for he built 280 chains of 3 wire fencing.
Many of those old standards can still be found in Brook Park.
During the war Mr Brook had the opportunity to make a careful study of the use of trees in Italy which proved to be a turning point in his thinking. There he saw whole valleys that from a distance appeared to be forested with trees but under this canopy were grown the crops and vines that for hundreds of years had formed the basis of Italian agriculture.
These trees also formed a protective cover over the soil and prevented evaporation and stopped all flooding and soil erosion.
Mr Brook who had become converted to “Two Tier” agriculture returned home to find that the removal of gorse and blackberry had created a real problem of flooding and soil erosion in his small property and he did something about it in a practical way. He constructed the first flood protection dams in the country and with many of these, and diversion tile drains from one catchment to another, he completely controlled the runoff from his property. Where once the water ran off in six hours, it now took six days for the dams to empty.
The maximum flow from 153 acres was safety contained within a 150mm (six inch) outlet tile and an eroding gully across an area of flat that was filled in. For stability, Mr Brook planted trees to such effect that an article about his property by Ronald Vine in the N.Z. Farmer on 7th June 1951 was headed, “An Umbrella for the face of the Earth”.
The production off this farm was outstanding and refuted any argument that the practices which Mr Brook followed were uneconomic. He was an excellent grassland farm and farm forester and this small farm was one of the most outstanding examples of conservation farming in New Zealand. The incredible thing about it was that it was the first.
Special mention must be made of the input of Mr John Albert Taylor to the development of Brook Park. In 1936 Mr Taylor accepted a position as Farm Manager to Mr Colin Brook, carrying out the tree planting programmes and working the property to ensure the farming venture was successful. Mr Taylor lived in a small farm cottage provided by Mr Brook on Hospital Road Extension.