Farmer always willing to get the job done
He still had a lot of things he wanted to do, but Teviot Valley farmer Dick Hill left a long list of achievements behind at his death in December. Not ‘‘just a farmer’’, Dick will be remembered for the responsibility thrust upon him when Max Bradford decided to change the structure of power companies. As elected member for Teviot on the Central Electric Power Board, he became the first chairman of the Central Lakes Trust with the responsibility for millions of dollars invested for the betterment of those fortunate to live within the boundaries. Born in 1945, he shifted from Wallacetown, Southland, in 1954, and his parents Fred and Marjorie settled on Mill Farm, Arrowtown, now better known as Millbrook Resort. Younger brother Jeff recalls Dick knew the way home from school on his first day, ‘‘his older sister didn’t; his younger brother, not a clue’’. Spending just two years at Southland Technical College before returning to the farm at Arrowtown, Dick joined Young Farmers and honed his debating skills – a talent which stood him in good stead in later years. These years also included involvement in local sports clubs and the Arrowtown Museum, the beginning of a lifetime of community involvement. After building a partnership with his father in the farm, he bought the farm outright before deciding he wanted something bigger. Jeff tells the story of years earlier, while returning from a rugby match in Dunedin, the car Dick and friends were travelling in broke down at Waitahuna and they caught the train to Roxburgh, passing The Gums farm, and Dick commented on wanting to own one just like that one day, only to take ownership of The Gums in 1978. Times were tough during the first years on the farm – losing his wife Mary in 1981 and coping with two small children, withdrawn farm subsidies and some wonderful support from friends to get through. Friends from the Millers Flat Collie Club, Teviot Irrigation Committee, Benger Sale Yards Committee and Mt Benger A & P Show Committee all stood together to help one another during some really hard years. Rugby also benefited from Dick’s involvement as West Otago subunion delegate to the Otago Rugby Union for many years, including four as president, and also as a referee. In each of the groups Dick was involved with, he was more than ‘‘just a member’’. In the Collie Club, he would always run his dogs early in the day so he could then be the sheep liberator for the rest of the day. In the Teviot Valley 2007 group to celebrate 150 years of farming in the area, Dick was first to put his hand up as treasurer for what was to be a project that involved major fundraising and expenses. Through his years on the Rox burgh Area School Board of Trustees, he became involved in the Gateway Project, giving students a chance to experience farm work in a real situation. This month’s A & P show will find someone different in the wool pavilion – Dick was in charge of the classing for many years. His wife Ann said of this task and so many others: ‘‘ He saw a job needed doing, so he just got on and did it.’’ The Roxburgh and District Lions Club will miss his willingness on working bees, the Medical Services Trust Board will miss his careful thoughts on any decision to be made, the Roxburgh Museum has lost a dedicated historian, and Teviot Valley has lost a willing volunteer.
Always willing: Farmer Dick Hill