Forty families to get century farm awards

Karen Roughan
Karen Roughan
The New Zealand Century Farm and Station Awards committee in Lawrence is busy preparing for its May awards dinner where it will formally honour 40 New Zealand families for their significant achievement in farming their land for at least 100 years.

Chairwoman Karen Roughan said the NZCFSA committee was delighted that interest in the awards continued to grow.

''Our application numbers actually reached 50 this year, but for various reasons some families have decided to hold off receiving their award until next year,'' she said.

''The last time we reached this number was in our inaugural year in 2005.''

Award recipients from throughout New Zealand will be arriving in Lawrence from May 24 to 26 to join in the celebrations.

Families attend a welcome function on the Friday night then the awards ceremony on the Saturday evening at which about 300 people are expected to attend.

During the day there is a town and farm tour which has become increasingly popular.

There are seven sesquicentennial awards this year recognising those families who have been farming their own land for 150-plus years.

Land that was distributed under the Discharged Soldiers Settlement Act in 1915 allowing returned servicemen to be granted farmland is also starting to filter through.

Mrs Roughan, who has been involved in the awards programme since its conception, said the committee and Lawrence locals were immensely proud of this important annual event in the agricultural calendar.

''It is a real honour to be able to host these families in a small town like Lawrence.

''We feel privileged to be able to recognise the contributions these families and their forebears have made to New Zealand's agricultural industry and economy.''

The late Russell Brown, of Lawrence, heard of the initiative through some North American visitors and launched the New Zealand programme in 2005, honouring its first group of families in 2006.

The programme's purpose is to capture and preserve the family history which might otherwise be lost through the generations.

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

At the awards dinner, families have a chance to meet other recipients and formally receive a distinctive bronze plaque and certificate to display on their property.

Families enjoy the special night where many stories of hardship, perseverance and success over 100-plus years are shared.

Applications are now open for the 2019 year and any families who have owned and farmed their land since 1919 or earlier are encouraged to apply.

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