The eyes of Rob Burrows and those of his wife, Mary Ann, both
mist over as they talk about the prospect of leaving their
Amuri Basin property, Beechwood, in the Hurunui district.
Up for auction on Wednesday, May 21, the 275ha farm has been
Mr Burrow's home since 1960, the place where the couple
raised their two daughters, so the imminent shift does not
come without much soul-searching.
Both said they would miss the stunning views to the west and,
of course, the memories.
For Mr Burrows, the memories go back even further, to 1951
when his father, Tug, and his wife, Margaret, who still lives
on the property, bought a 365 acre (178ha) farm of the same
name on the other side of Top Pahau Ford Rd.
A returned serviceman, Tug Burrows was in numerous ballots
for land in the area before using his rehabilitation money to
buy his first farm.
Buying at the height of the boom, in the wake of the Korean
War, meant times were tough at first, the family being
restricted to a budget of 5 a week by the bank.
''A wife, two kids, no car, a few horses, a tractor and
trailer, it must have been tough for Tug and Mum,'' Mr
A rabbiter and shearer, Tug Burrows was obviously not afraid
of hard work. In fact, before his World War 2 service, he had
built up a small Southdown stud ''which his father sold on
him while he was away at the war, something he wasn't too
happy about'', Mr Burrows said.
It was not too long before Tug Burrows was back putting rams
over halfbred merino ewes, on-selling the ram lambs and
building up assets.
By 1957, the Romney stud was established, which continues to
this day, a smaller Leicester stud following a year later.
In 1960, The Terraces, as it was known, came on the market
for 57 (an acre) and the Beechwood name simply crossed the
''There had been few if any sales in the area for some years
and some people said Tug had paid 20 pounds too much. He sold
the farm across the road for the same, so it wasn't too
bad,'' Mr Burrows, who was 12 at the time, said.
''But we had no hay for winter, as it was left as a carrot
for the bloke that bought Tug's first farm.''
''The whole family was involved, as you were in those days,
and I can recall I felt that I really needed a smoke. I've
only had about three since.''
Once they were settled in, paddock sizes were altered, new
fencing erected and new pasture sown.
A major change came in 1962 when a Hereford stud was set up
at the request of Margaret Burrows, who at the age of 93
continued to take a keen interest.
Today, Beechwood runs 140 Hereford and 60 Charolais cows,
plus 750 Wairere bred Romney ewes and supporting stock.
Another huge change came in the early 1980s with the advent
of irrigation. For the proposed scheme to go ahead a 75%
farmer vote in favour was required.
''We ended up putting everyone on a bus and heading down to
Winchmore,'' Mr Burrows said. ''When they saw what had been
achieved there, plus numerous discussions at various watering
holes on the way home, there was no real problem getting the
Today about 124ha and 28 paddocks are irrigated by border
dykes and with 261 shares held in the Amuri Irrigation
Company, there is sufficient water to irrigate the remainder
of the farm.
Mr Burrows said the switch to dairying looked inevitable, but
it was not his first choice.
''I'm more of a stockman than a mechanic. With border dyke
irrigation, the only thing mechanical you need is an a alarm
clock, which I can handle.''
At its peak in the Muldoon years, the Burrows used to sell
1100 stud halfbred and Romney rams. While those numbers had
declined, sales remained strong.
Over the years, sheep had been sold to China, Uruguay,
Argentina and Fiji. Ram sales had traditionally been capped
off with a cup of tea and a whisky, or two.
''I can remember a couple of bachelors who came by every year
to buy a ram. It was my job as a youngster to carry the
bottle of whisky and the water jug and offer top-ups,'' Mr
''I remember approaching one of these old blokes and him
saying `no, no, no', then chasing me round the room with his
arm outstretched, obviously having changed his mind.
''On another occasion an agent and a Spanish-speaking
interpreter got pie-eyed, leaving Tug and me trying to do a
deal with a group who couldn't speak a word of English.''
Subject to the sale of Beechwood, Mr Burrows said he had
lined up a 1000ha ''lifestyle block'' with less intensive
- by Kit Carson