Re­call­ing dis­trict’s farm­ing his­tory

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By JOAN STAN­LEY

From Horse to Trac­tor – Through the Years is an ex­hi­bi­tion of agri­cul­tural ma­chin­ery at the Firth Tower Mu­seum, open­ing on Fe­bru­ary 11 at 10am in the ex­tended Mark Madill Shed.

Mata­mata His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety mem­bers have been work­ing on this ex­hi­bi­tion for nearly five years with funds from the Lot­tery Board, do­na­tions and his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety fundrais­ing.

Farm ma­chin­ery, nearly all from the Mata­mata dis­trict, shows farm­ing de­vel­op­ment in the dis­trict from pre-euro­pean agri­cul­ture to large-scale farm­ing in the Josiah Firth and John Mccaw eras, then smaller scale set­tler farm­ing.

It shows horse- drawn im­ple­ments and the in­tro­duc­tion of trac­tors.

Plac­ing the ma­chin­ery in the or­der it would have been used and en­larged pho­tos are the ex­hi­bi­tion’s out­stand­ing fea­tures.

These pho­tos, all from Mata­mata farms, show ma­chines be­ing hauled by horses or trac­tors and help to bring the ex­hi­bi­tion to life.

There are also large ex­plana­tory pan­els with pho­tos at the be­gin­ning of each sec­tion and small pan­els on the hand rails around the walk­way de­scrib­ing what each ma­chine was used for.

To view the dis­plays, vis­i­tors will be us­ing the wind­ing wooden walk­way built by vol­un­teers.

Mata­mata busi­nesses were used to build the ex­ten­sion on the orig­i­nal shed, to do the elec­tri­cal work, de­sign the text pan­els, and print and en­large the pho­tos.

The sto­ry­line starts from Maori agri­cul­ture which fea­tures a bird- catch­ing de­vice ( waka- kereru) and in­for­ma­tion about the use of the ko, or dig­ging stick.

Large- scale farm­ing shows a dou­ble- fur­row plough and a seed drill which had been used on the Mata­mata Es­tate where the pad­docks ranged from 120 to 400 hectares.

A re­stored wagon – the farm truck of the horse era – has pride of place in its own shed.

Wag­ons were used to cart hay and en­si­lage, posts and wire, milk and cream cans, pigs and calves, and bags of ar­ti­fi­cial ma­nure.

The text panel about the sub­di­vi­sion of the Mata­mata Es­tate into smaller farms in 1904 re­veals that this was to al­low fam­i­lies to set­tle on small farms.

This is fol­lowed by ex­am­ples of potato plant­ing and dig­ging im­ple­ments, and the story of crop­ping – from plough­ing through disc­ing and har­row­ing to plant­ing and reap­ing the grain crops.

A com­pre­hen­sive sec­tion on hay­mak­ing in the 1920s and 1930s starts with a horse- drawn mower and con­tin­ues with a dump rake and var­i­ous sweeps to gather the hay to take it to the haystack.

In the back­ground are large pho­tos of hay­mak­ing scenes.

Fea­tur­ing promi­nently is a life-size cut-out Cly­des­dale horse be­tween the shafts of the dump rake.

The rest of the ex­hi­bi­tion cov­ers the com­ing of trac­tors start­ing with a Farmall F12 trac­tor with steel wheels and ends with a col­lec­tion of large har­vest­ing ma­chines which were used to make hay and en­si­lage from the 1940s to the 1970s.

A final text panel called: Into the 21st Cen­tury, cov­ers the big changes in ma­chin­ery which have rev­o­lu­tionised farm­ing meth­ods to­day.

The From Horse to Trac­tor dis­play is well worth a visit.

It aims to pre­serve ex­am­ples of farm ma­chin­ery used in for­mer times, to ed­u­cate the young peo­ple of to­day about the past as well as bring­ing back mem­o­ries to the older gen­er­a­tion.

On dis­play: Bob Sch­warz tak­ing milk cans from his Wa­haroa Rd farm to the Mata­mata Cream­ery. A copy is in the ex­hi­bi­tion.

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