Awards to honour century of farming

Contribution recognition . . . New Zealand Century Farms and Station Awards committee vice-chairman Mark Patterson (left) and chairman Eddie Fitzgerald are preparing a ceremony in Lawrence later this month to formally honour 41 families who have been farming their land for 100 years or more. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

Families with a proud history that includes hardship, perseverance and success will be honoured at the New Zealand Century Farms and Station Awards in Lawrence this month.

Awards committee Eddie Fitzgerald said preparations for the awards were advancing nicely.

The awards will formally honour 41 New Zealand families for the achievement of farming their land for 100 years or more.

Some of the families being honoured had been farming their land for more than 150 years, including Jack and Jane Cameron whose family started farming in Martinborough in 1856.

On May 19 there will be an icebreaker event at the Tuapeka Vintage Club for the families.

Activities the next day include tours of Lawrence as well as sheep and beef farms, and a visit to the punt at Tuapeka Mouth.

That night, May 20, about 250 people are expected to attend the award ceremony in the ‘‘well-appointed’’ gymnasium at Simpson Park.

‘‘People do get the wow factor when they come in. They talk about it for weeks later.’’

The annual event was cancelled last year because of Covid-19.

In 2021, the committee held two award ceremonies across consecutive weekends to ‘‘catch up’’ after the event was cancelled in 2020 because of Covid-19.

‘‘The committee had to dig deep to do it over two weekends.’’

A steady stream of applications for future award ceremonies was expected as many families qualified because their properties originated from ballot farms post World War 1.

‘‘We are going to get busier.’’

Awards vice-chairman Mark Patterson said the story of each family was different, but also had similarities.

‘‘They’ve all gone through the Depression. World War 2, the wool boom of 1951 and Rogernomics — they’ve had these huge ebbs and flows — so when you get them together, they’ve instantly got so much in common, which makes it a special occasion.’’

Families submit narratives of their farm history, copies of photographs and supporting documents which get archived at the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington, ensuring all records are kept in perpetuity.

At the awards dinner, families receive a bronze plaque and certificate to display on their property.

The awards began in 2005 and more than 500 families have been honoured.