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Better than ever . . .Wai mumu man Alistair Rutherford inspects the shears of his 1908 vintage plow. PHOTO: FIONA ELLIS

For Waimumu man Alistair Rutherford, vintage ploughing is “an art form”.

The 76-year-old grew up on a farm and enjoyed using standard ploughs, only turning to vintage ploughing in the 1980s.

His son introduced him to the art, in which equipment must date from pre-1956 .

Mr Rutherford won the vintage category of the New Zealand Ploughing Championships held in Riversdale in April.

It was the latest of eight such wins.

“I’d had enough of the other class… I went vintage,” Mr Rutherford said.

He sometimes scored better than those using modern equipment.

“They think it’s ridiculous but I think it’s quite good.”

His years in the field helped hone his skill, but he was still learning, he said.

“There’s so many tricks to it. There’s so many things you can do to improve what you’re doing.

“Every paddock is different so you have to reset [the coulters] to suit the conditions.”

He owned 14 tractors, all but two of which were vintage, and six or seven ploughs.

His 1908 Reid and Gray plough was his favourite to use because it turned over a good furrow.

“That one’s been used on and off since the day it was built. It’s going better than ever.”

“All you have to do is just keep repairing anything that wears on it. I make my own plough shears and everything for it.

“They’ve got to be built to a certain standard, near to what the old ones were when they first came out.

“After a few matches I weld mine up and grind it off just to make it go better.”

Vintage class ploughs were not allowed to have modern upgrades, he said.

He also spent a few years judging instead of competing, but his plough still left its mark.

“While I was judging one year, one fellow had borrowed my plough.

“During the competition the work of someone in the distance stood out.

“I said ploughing here, this is really good ploughing.’

“The judge next to me was laughing. it was my old plough.”