5 months ago

Fitzgerald's Town

Springs districts was at

Springs districts was at Prebbleton on land belonging to Messrs Griffith & Co in August 1865. It was a beautiful day and drew a large crowd to watch and to comment on the 28 teams competing. Competition was fierce and the standards apparently were so high that the judges took four hours to reach their decision, a tribute to the competitors. It was obvious that there was plenty of local talent in a district which only a few years previously was mostly wild and desolate country. At first the matches were well supported. Entries were never less than 20 and on three occasions more than 30 teams competed. Unfortunately enthusiasm waned, numbers dropped, and in 1876 only 16 teams were entered, leading to the suggestion that matches should lapse for a year or two in the hope that this would revive interest. Earlier this lack of interest concerned William Tod who believed that unless younger men came forward district ploughing matches would collapse through want of support. 33 There is nothing new under the sun! Entries were usually only open to those living in the Lincoln and Springs Road Districts and since this was thought to be one of the reasons for the lack of interest the working committee for the 1877 match opened competition to all comers, but to no avail, for only one outside entry was received. Local ploughmen apparently were so skilled that few outsiders were willing to compete against them! In any event there was no further competition until 1881 when a match, open to all comers, was held on Henry Pannett’s farm on Days Road. Thirty one teams competed, but in the following years numbers again dwindled until in 1888 only ten teams were entered for a match held at the School of Agriculture. The lack of interest, from ploughmen and spectators, led to the abandonment of ploughing matches in the district for about 20 years, until the formation of the Lincoln Ploughing Association in 1910. The Lyttelton Times considered that matches were abandoned because of changes in farming practice 34 . Farms were larger, more land was being developed, agricultural machinery was much improved, the opening up of the railways encouraged more rapid means of transport, and there was not enough time to spend on the niceties of ploughing. The Times article contended that there had developed a more speculative spirit among the majority of farmers, and they are too intent upon making their fortunes to spend time and money in making up ploughing matches, especially as the benefits to be derived from these…is of a problematical nature. The Press (27 July 1866) reported that a match held at Prebbleton had been organised by the Prebbleton Farmers’ Association. This may have been so, but judged by subsequent reports it seems that most, if not all, 19 th century matches in the Lincoln and Springs districts were organised 54

at public meetings where large committees (sometimes as many as 70) were elected, the members subscribing towards the cost of the contest generously enough to allow for substantial prizes, sometimes as much as eight pounds for the winners of the competition classes. Occasionally there were prizes donated for the best groomed horse, the best kept harness, and the best matched teams amongst others, and controversially, a whip for the worst ploughman, dropped after the first two years. From the general committee a working committee was elected to take responsibility for the match; after the match the committees disbanded until the next event. For the first few years matches were held at Prebbleton, often on land belonging to E. Prebble, and close to the hotel. It was flat and dry and the soil was said to be of good quality which would show a good cutting plough off to advantage. However, competitors were not always so fortunate, and the quality of the land in other places sometimes tested their skill to the limit. Thus Mr Broadbent’s land on Shands Track was very uneven and the mould had been destroyed in patches by grubs, but two paddocks used at Ladbrooks were worse still. The organisers were slated for choosing paddocks which were lumpy, “cross ploughed”, and certainly the worst and most illconditioned grounds in the district for competitive ploughing. Competitions were held at various localities besides those at Prebbleton including the Pannetts’ farm on Days Road, the Murrays’ and Tods’ at Lincoln, the School of Agriculture, and at Henry White’s farm just off Springs Track. In these locations the quality of the chosen fields varied considerably from heavy clay loam to light and sandy soil, but they always offered a challenge to the competing ploughmen. This was especially so for the match of August 1888 35 at the School of Agriculture when due to extremely wet weather the ground was like a quagmire which made fine work difficult and unpleasant for both competitors and spectators alike. Match rules were not especially controversial and mostly dealt with the manner in which the ploughing had to be conducted and seem to have applied to most matches considered here. The number of classes in any competition, the fact that teams could only be entered if their owners lived within the bounds of the Lincoln and Springs Road districts for a good number of years, and the requirement that judges could not enter the area until ploughing was finished at 3 pm drew most comment, but were generally resolved in a satisfactory manner. The Lincoln Ploughing Association still flourishes and the reader is referred to Forrest Woods’ published history of that organisation. 55

The 2012 Highlights Report of Universities New Zealand - Te Pōkai ...
S . A . G A L L E R Y SEPTEMBER —OCTOBER 1990 154 Art in the ...
New Zealand's Premium Food & Wine Tourism Experiences