On the next episode, screening 5 March 2017 at 7pm on TVNZ 1:

The Takeover

Charlotte Rietveld (nee Nell) reckons she has had the longest apprenticeship ever – seven years – and it’s not over yet.

One of three siblings growing up on Middle Rock Station near Windwhistle in Canterbury, Charlotte started a career in banking when she left university. Her brother became an accountant and her sister a lawyer.

For a while it looked as though the farm would be sold out of the family when her father, Bruce Nell, retired. Then Charlotte had a change of heart and returned home to learn to be a farmer. This year she becomes a legal co-owner of Middle Rock with husband Vince and parents Bruce and Lyn.

Vince runs a business selling accessories for four wheel drive vehicles and it’s Charlotte who is the farmer – a job made more challenging by the fact that she has a 9-month-old daughter. Luckily for Charlotte, she has a baby-sitter on site – Lyn is a doting grandmother.

Bruce has been steering his own ship ever since taking over the farm from his dad. Handing over the wheel is not easy. ‘He’s the boss.’ says Charlotte, ‘And I’m in no doubt he’ll still be the boss, as long as he’s alive!’ But Bruce knows he’ll have to hand over at some stage. ‘Sooner or later I’ll say: “Well, if that’s the way it’s to be done, go and do it,” but presently I still call the shots.’

Over the years Bruce has developed a low-input easy-care system of farming, doing as much of the work himself as possible to reduce labour costs. Charlotte returned with a few ideas of her own about how to improve things. ‘I arrived seven years ago saying: “I’ve got some other ideas,” but I think – dare I say it? - don’t tell him, but I’m slowly coming round to: “Not a bad idea, Bruce.”’

Once a year the entire Nell family heads to nearby Hororata for what is rapidly becoming one of Canterbury’s biggest events – the Hororata Highland Games. Started just six years ago, the games were created to develop community resilience after the Canterbury earthquakes.

They have been a huge success – this year over 10,000 people attended. It has become one of the biggest events on the Highland Games calendar. Some competitors – kilt-wearing giants with hipster beards – come from Australia hoping to win the prize purse in the Heavyweight Championship.

The Nells have been involved with the Games organisation from the beginning. This year Charlotte and Vince ran the ticketing gate, Lyn manned the Lake Coleridge tourism promotions tent and Bruce was acting as ‘Swordsman’ - ceremonial guard for the ‘clan chief’ during the opening ceremony.

For more about Middle Rock Station and farm tours, visit:www.middlerock.co.nz and www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5COjtZVbgo

For more about the Hororata Highland Games, visit:http://hororatahighlandgames.org.nz




Dan Henry


Camera & Aerial Photography

Jeff Aldridge


Field Sound

John Patrick


Editor & Colourist 

Mike Townsend


Sound Mixer

Ian Leslie



Stephen Gallagher


Post Production Manager

Bailey Palmer


Production Manager

Robyn Best



Vivienne Jeffs


Network Executive

Jude Callen


Associate Producer

Dan Henry



Howard Taylor



Julian O’Brien