Country Life

Friday 2 October 2015, with Carol Stiles, Susan Murray, Cosmo Kentish-Barnes & Duncan Smith

The Simpsons of Simpson's Beach

old man

When Peter Simpson (above) was three months old he came to live on a farm on the coast just north of Whitianga.

It was 1927 and, 88 years later, that farm is still home.

Every day, you'll find Peter out working on the land; moving stock and feeding out.

"You know, I've never shifted and I've farmed all my life and I just love it. I wouldn't do anything else... I've got my quad bike and I've got three good dogs and you can go forever doing that sort of work."

The farm, at Simpson's Beach, has changed significantly over the years.

Once scrub-covered, Peter broke in a lot of the property with a horse and plough.

Initially it was a dairy farm and Peter's father used a steam engine to drive the shed.

"We had a tonne of firewood. Old kauri logs washed up on the beach from the kauri timber days up here. (We'd) chop it up and fire it into the fire to keep the steam going. I don't know what made my father buy that steam engine but it did the trick."

The steam engine was replaced by a diesel motor and, in 1964, electricity finally came to Simpson's Beach.

When wool prices were good, dairy cows gave way to 2,500 sheep.

Peter's wife Margaret remembers the pressure of having to feed the shearers. There were scones, filled rolls and sandwiches to be prepared for morning tea and then meat, vegetables and pudding at lunchtime.

"I look back and think how on earth did I do it? The thing is you have to be right dead-on time. I was tearing around like a mad thing. But anyway that's all gone now, thank goodness."

Now 600 cattle graze the steep land.

Today Peter farms alongside his son John, who shares a love and the land and says he doubts his father will ever move from the farm.

"He'll leave in a box. No, he won't leave here... Nah, none of us will."

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Tracing the Stencil

Annette Stencil picAnnette O'Sullivan is piecing together the story of why the stencil became a shipping mark for bales of wool.

A senior lecturer of typography at Massey University in Wellington, Annette's PhD research explores the use and significance of the New Zealand wool bale stencil from colonial times to the present day.

Stenciling was widely practiced for more than 100 years. It was a requirement of all colonies exporting wool to London to stencil the name of the sheep station and details of the wool onto the fabric of the bale in order to trace its origin and identify the contents for sale.
"Some of the stencils have varieties of breaks and letterforms, mixtures of italics, sans serifs and serifs and that's what makes them unique,' Annette says.

The stenciled station brand not only represented the station internationally, it was New Zealand's first export brand.

Stenciling on wool bales was discontinued towards the end of the last century with the introduction of new materials and processes, but today echoes of wool bale branding can still be seen in the marketing and branding of other New Zealand products. 

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Guest - Jen Scoular

IMGNew Zealand Avocado chief executive Jen Scoular attended the World Avocado Congress in Peru.

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Regional Wrap

cowsFive people from the land talk about farming conditions in their region, including one million apples trees have been planted in Hawkes Bay this season and in Canterbury tailing is in full swing.

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