For the past 127 years, the late days of summer have been a time for the rural community of the Northern Wairoa to come together. A time for farming families to celebrate their achievements. In the early days of settlement, that was just what the concept of an agricultural and pastoral show was all about — an opportunity to reflect on how the harvest was progressing, and a time to meet and greet neighbours new and old.
That feeling still prevails as 2019’s Northern Wairoa A&P show gets geared up for another year of fun and competition. Once again, the action is happening at the showgrounds at Arapohue. It’s a chance to engage in some friendly rivalry across a variety of uniquely Kiwi country pursuits, and, increasingly, it’s a chance to people from the town and the city to engage with the rural community.
Those early pioneers loved to display the skills which were helping them establish homesteads and bloodlines of livestock. One can only imagine the rivalry between the shearers, wood-choppers and farmers of yesteryear when these skills were the difference between survival — and having to admit defeat and leave. Today the ribbons confer bragging rights and pride to the same measure, but it’s all in a spirit of good fun — and a carnival atmosphere at the A&P show is a big attraction for out of town visitors seeking a window onto the country life. This year’s schedule of events is no exception to 127 years of tradition — though there’s a lot of new fun and games in the mix. In the equestrian area, there are no less than five rings, hosting events from showjumping through to displays of fine horses led on the rein. Cattle will not be shown this year because of M Bovis safety measures and considerations, but instead a fun Agri kids event will let young up and coming farmers test their mettle against a range of challenges.
The shearing competition will be more thrilling than ever, with the sport — a reflection of an industry which has been at the core of Kiwi farming since colonial days — in the spotlight thanks to the breakout independent movie She Shears. The flashing clippers will harvest wool at an incredible rate as top shearers ply their trade. Crucially, points earned here at the show count toward the official national championship. High stakes mean a huge effort, so this will be one to watch!
Plenty of fun to be had at this years Arapohue A&P Show
Indoors, the traditional crafts of the countryside make for classic A&P display. Gigantic veggies are grown from the fertile local soil, delicious home baking, skilled handicrafts, tempting preserves and creative flower arrangements are all part of that century-plus of tradition, and the competition for a top ribbon is as fierce in these endeavours as it is out in the equestrian ring or the shearing arena.
Of course, it’s not all about competing for glory. It is a fun day for the family, with displays of vintage cars, tough and unstoppable four-wheel drive machines, and a whole massive carnival of activities for the kids. This year, all of the carnival rides and attractions are offered for a gold coin donation, making this an affordable day out where the family can really get amongst the action. Try the mini quads, hit the bouncy castle and the slides, play some carnival games, bounce on the bungy trampolines — and then tuck into a delicious selection of foods.
It’s easy to see why A&P shows around the nation are enjoying a resurgence of popularity, driven partly by a desire for city dwellers to recapture the feeling of ‘old New Zealand’.
Indeed, many of the big attractions have not changed since those first shows, more than a century ago. Good fun does not come with a ‘best before’ date!
This year’s A&P show happens on the February 9, with an early start to make sure the full list of events is able to fit in one day! There will be plenty of parking available, so plan to bring the whole family and enjoy this time-honoured tradition — a red-letter day on the Kaipara’s summer calendar.
Of course, none of this would be possible without the generosity of our local business community and those civic-minded individuals and families who work so hard — and give so much — to make sure the Northern Wairoa A&P Show will be there year after year. The organisers wish to offer their thanks to each and every one of the volunteers, sponsors and contributors who continue to make this 127-year tradition a winner. Of course, many of the businesses helping make the show a success are people with a farming and rural focus, giving back to their constituency.