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Award an honour... Members of the Smith family at the Century Farm New Zealand Awards, which were held in Lumsden (from left) Rosemary Smith, daughter Kerrie Knox, Noeline Smith and Allan Smith and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones.

When he was aged 5, Allan Smith’s grandfather, John Smith, walked from Dunedin to Gore with his brothers and three cattle beasts, to the new family farm at McNab.

The family has recently received a Century Farm New Zealand Award for 143 years of family farming.

The property is now farmed by Allan Smith and his wife, Noeline.

Mr Smith said his grandfather was later able to drive to Dunedin and back in one day, and he could not believe it.

great-grandfather who settled here was he hated gorse and tried to stop it coming into New Zealand – and I have the same hate of gorse,” Mr Smith said.

Many changes have occurred on the farm since Robert Smith drew 200 acres (80ha) in the land ballot of 1875.

Mrs Smith said modern machinery and facilities had made a big difference on the farm.

“It makes life easier. It’s less demanding on the physical side of life for farmers, which means Allan is 76 and he’s still farming.

“One hundred years ago you hardly lived to 76, life was so tough, and you worked so hard physically you were worn out,” she said.

“That’s the difference this modern machinery and facilities are making for us.”

Farms now had covered yards which allowed people to work on a terrible day and still get work done on time, Mrs Smith said.

“It’s a very different lifestyle now to what our pioneer folks had.”

Mr and Mrs Smith have faced a range of challenges while farming, including several natural disasters, such as a major landslide in 1970, floods and the big freeze of 1996.

Mrs Smith said the flood completely took out the main highway and the railway line, and no-one could get through.

“I can remember a huge big tree sailing down the middle of the valley like a ship, taking out fences. It’s something like I had never seen. It was a huge event.”

Farming presented some big challenges at times and, while they did not immediately know how to deal with some challenges, they would always work through problems and restore everything to a manageable level, she said.

The couple said the biggest challenge they faced at the moment was succession.

Mr Smith said he enjoyed his time on the farm, which was now a 384ha sheep and dairy support operation.

“I’ve enjoyed working and producing good livestock . . . and being able to see you’ve achieved something for your efforts,” Mr Smith said.

“There’s a saying that one of the early members of the family said, which was ‘the land is kind to the willing worker’.”

Mrs Smith said it was a real honour being awarded a Century Farm award as it not only honoured herself and her husband, but the whole family.

“It’s really part of our being, the fact that we’ve carried on here for 53 years.”

Pioneers… Margaret Dunlop and Robert Smith and their four children arrived in Dunedin in 1863 from Scotland and drew 200 acres (80ha) in the land ballot of 1875. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED