AgOptions Ltd, a lifestyle block consultancy and maintenance service, was launched in August 2010. The business is centred in Franklin and operates throughout South Auckland and the North Waikato regions.
Colin Graham is a practical man who looks for sensible solutions. After 20 years of farm management practice in the Bay of Plenty, Waikato and South Auckland he has had a wide experience in fencing, weed control, water reticulation, pasture and animal health.
Over the years he has noticed that some families who have moved to the country in search of a better life, run into problems on their lifestyle block, rather than giving them the relaxed rural life style they’d dreamed of. “Quite often, both work in town or operate their own business. On the weekend they want to enjoy well deserved time off or follow sporting activities. The end result is they just do not have the time to do all the mundane maintenance jobs.”
He believes this is particularly true of the South Auckland area where living in the country is comfortable commutable to work in the city, albeit motorway-travel might consume precious time each day.
“There are a lot of lifestyle blocks around the southern outskirts of the city and each property is unique in its’ own needs and requirements. I am not in the least bit judgemental, as each owner has their own vision for their block.”
“My farming career began in the late 80’s when the property I had recently started working on was selected for the ANZ-sponsored, government-supported, Meat Research and Development Programme, for the Bay of Plenty Region. The programme ran for three years and involved a team of monitors with skills from across the board who’s task was to identify ways of lifting performance and increasing production. Coming from a business background I fell on my feet and this became a fast-track learning experience.”
For several years he then managed a bull farm near Maramarua, before he and his wife, Carolyn (a Registered Nurse ) felt it was time they did something for others. Colin took up a paid position with a US based Christian aid organisation ‘Shelter Now International’ who, were looking for workers with integrity to help rebuild lives in Kosovo.
In June 2000 they packed up their two daughters, Holly and Abby who were then 12 & 9 and headed to post war Gjakove, Kosovo. This was to be their home for a year. Colin took up the post of Project Manager, whilst Carolyn had a year away from nursing to home school their girls in NZ correspondence.
For the next twelve months Colin worked in conjunction with the United Nations Mission in Kosovo, to rebuild roads, bridges, houses, (category 1-5 damage) school water/ sanitation and health programs for children.
Colin’s most memorable challenge, he says, was being involved in restoring a cluster of 120 shops in old Gjakove. “These were listed by the World Heritage Trust, so had to be restored to their original grandeur. It was most rewarding knowing we were not only restoring their heritage but, also getting families back into business and earning a living again.”
Overall, he says, Kosovo was a valuable experience in teaching them understanding, tolerance and an appreciation for just how fortunate we are to live in NZ.
On returning to NZ, Colin then took up a Managers position at Mangatarata, on a three thousand acre block, which he remained on for a further eight years before deciding to launch AgOptions Ltd.
“The basic farm management practices remain the same. Its’ about thinking out-side the square and tailoring, a simple solution, as cost effectively as possible, to overcome most problems that may arise.”

“Healthy Soil = Healthy Pasture = Healthy Stock”