Our Story, The Baton Valley Trust

The Baton Valley Trust was established around the purchase of the property at the top of the Baton Valley, nestled between the Skeet and Baton Rivers adjacent to Kahurangi National Park, in 2008.

The Baton Valley is in Te Tau Ihu, the top of the South Island/Te Wai Pounamu of Aotearoa/New Zealand. We are 50 minutes from Motueka, and 90 minutes from Whakatū/Nelson.

The modern story of The Baton House started as Lucy Ulrich was horse trekking across the wide, green reaches of the upper Baton Valley. Her guide, local resident Cheryl Dean, told the tale of the old Baton Hotel which once stood on the hill servicing the hopeful gold miners, a remote oasis...

The proprietor, Mrs Taylor, shared her birthday with Queen Victoria, born 1819, and each year on that date, May 24th, a grand ball was held in the hotel. Life must have been tough in those days in this remote valley which can get bitterly cold in the winter. You can see Mrs Taylor standing on the veranda in the black and white photo, with 2 of her five daughters in the windows. There are many descendants of this family still living in the district.

The pioneering spirit was awakened in Lucy when the land subsequently came up for sale. She dreamed of recreating the hotel just as it was (but with a few modern conveniences) and over 4 years The Baton House was built. Maarten Leek had an eye for interesting early 20th century furniture and fittings, many brought out from The Netherlands, and together they created a place like no other.

Access to the house is via a ford over the Baton River which frequently rises so there were many challenges along the way. Today the house is a grand lady, with many special features and a simple, earthy vibe. History has been brought back to life with the rebirth of the old building; native bush is being replanted; old healing skills are being embraced and guests feel regenerated when they leave.

The Baton Valley Trust exists to support current and future generations, providing opportunities to learn, explore, rest and also contribute to the Baton story going forward.

Read more about the Baton Valley history here.

Our Mission

We aspire to achieve small-scale, sustainable conservation, in order to maintain and regenerate native species of flora and fauna, currently integrating this with a working farm. We hope to develop a high standard of ecological performance in all pertinent areas of conservation and to establish and define indicators that measure change in these factors.

Education is important to us. We aim to facilitate education about sustainable conservation and sustainable living through educational workshops, outdoor activities and community events.

We provide open spaces and reserves, and access to clean rivers, for the purposes of recreation and past times for the benefit of the general public in the Tasman region.


We have adopted the Tīwaiwaka kaupapa (philosophy) to help guide our way.
Tiwaiwaka has arisen from a collective of people committed to healing the mauri (connecting force) of the whenua (land). Bringing together skills, experience and knowledge, and various networks throughout Aotearoa, many are committing to help realise this vision, each in their own way regardelss of culture, religion, beliefs or history.

By following the Principles of Tīwaiwaka set out below we have a way forward that gives us hope for the future. Keeping the whenua (land) well is always first priority as this is what will ensure our long-term future, especially for the generations that follow us.

1. Te Whenua, Papatūānuku, is the source of all life. She is the Mother.

Ka ora te Whenua, ka ora te tangata.

Caring for the whenua is the first priority. Everything else must be measured against this. When the land is well, the people are well. Papatūānuku is our mother.

We are not the centre of the Universe but we are part of it.
All living creatures are our brothers and sisters, and we are the potiki, the last born. We must care for them.


The mauri is the web of connections that sustains life.

If any of those connections are weakened or broken the mauri is less able to sustain life. The integrity of the mauri and its web of connections has greater priority than the rights and needs of any individual or species.

Te tāngata, people, are not the masters of the mauri; we are part of the mauri and embraced by it.

Our role is to care for the mauri. In doing so we are cared for by it. We find peace. We are at home.

No individual person is more important than any other.
Each must contribute what they have to offer, and receive what they need to be well. We are most well when we are sustained by the mauri, the web of connections that makes us who we are.

We give special care to the tiniest living creatures.
Even though they are too small to be seen they are the foundation that keeps and sustains all life. Caring for them is caring for the mauri. This is the source of wellness, of sustainability.
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