A brief historya& Passociations in New Zealand
The idea of Agricultural and Pastoral Associations had their beginnings back in Britain in the 18th century so when European settlers came to New Zealand, the expectation was that their new ‘home country’ would have an agricultural future. As a result, the first agricultural show was held in the Bay of Islands in 1842. A year later, the Agricultural and Horticultural Society of Auckland was set up, printing a pamphlet on farming prospects in Auckland, before holding its first show in 1843, with its second a mere two months later. Canterbury held their first show on the banks of the Rangitata River in 1859, and the A & P Society was established in 1863. By the 1870s, some associations were holding annual shows, and from then, until World War I, at least one A & P Society was set up each year. In 1884 in Southland, shows were held at Riverton, Gore, Wyndham and Invercargill, and by the 1950s, there were over 100 shows held in New Zealand every year. The early A & P Societies promoted farm improvement in many ways, with lectures about the latest sheep breeds, writing letters about vet shortages and rabbit controls and publishing pamphlets about the best crops for local conditions amongst their role. They also held ram fairs and horse parades. At first, shows were competitions featuring farm animals and crops, designed to demonstrate excellence and promote good breeding, although later they included other competition and attractions such as shearing, wood chopping, horse riding, displays of farm machinery and domestic crafts, sideshows and entertainments in the show ring. As shows became established they needed permanent homes, and in 1877, Parliament gave A & P Associations protection as Incorporated Societies, with most acquiring showgrounds within their first decade of existence. In subsequent years, these grounds were often leased out for other events. The Gore A & P Showgrounds is an excellent example of this with the grounds and numerous buildings on site available for events and meetings. 1924 became a milestone year for all A & P societies when the Royal Agricultural Society was formed to become the umbrella body for the A & P Associations and bestowed the name ‘‘Royal’’ on a different show each year.