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No. 20 (November 1957)
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An East Coast farm…Wairongomai Station. (Photo: John Ashton).

Keen Maori Interest in Farm Schools

Recent farm schools organized by the Department of Agriculture in the Gisborne-East Coast district recently had a large and enthusiastic Maori audience.

The fields superintendent of the department at Palmerston North, Mr C. J. Hamblyn, stated that attendances both Maori and pakeha had been much larger than expected, but that the most gratifying and encouraging feature was the keen interest shown by Maori farmers.

Last June, schools were held at Rere, where there was an attendance of 22, at Tolaga Bay, where there was an attendance of 51, and at Te Araroa, where there was an attendance of 90.

These were the first farm schools ever held at Rere and Te Araroa.

While a number of European farmers within tasy reach of Te Araroa did not attend the school the Maori farmers flocked to it from as far away as Cape Runaway and Ruatoria, Mr Hamblyn said.

Made Welcome

At such schools, there was commonly a marked tendency for the people to drift away as the afternoon wore on, Mr Hamblyn said, but most of the Maoris stayed to the end of the session, and their appreciation of what the school offered was most gratifying.

Their wives and daughters, for, whom, at each school, two home science extension officers held special class on “New Fabrics and Short Cuts the Home”, showed equally keen interest, and went to great pains to cater for the lecturers and make them feel welcome.

Greater Efficiency

Addressing the schools on the work of the extension division, Mr Hamblyn said that it was advisory service which dealt with local problems and carried out experimental work on them. It could not, however, go round asking individual farmers what their special problems were and offering to solve them. The division expected farmers to bring their problems to it, and it would then give them every help in its power.

In an address on wool shed design, Mr R. Montgomery, sheep and wool instructor at Hastings, said that improvement of shearing shed layout had enabled the same shearers each to shear 20 more sheep in a day and the same shed hands each to handle 30 more fleeces.

The horticultural instructor at Gisborne, J. D. Overbye, spoke on kumaras, soil mulching and fruit trees.

Mr E. B. Smythe, of Gisborne, spoke at Rere

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and Tolaga Bay, on the production of beef cattle and the requirements as to branding and earmarking of the new Stock Act, and Mr G. Wilson, of Opotiki, spoke on these subjects at Te Araroa.

Mr E. A. Madden, agrostologist at Palmerston North, spoke on the improvement of hill country pastures.

Drive for Production

Maori interest in the schools was due in no small measure to the support of the committees of management of Maori sheep and cattle stations on the Coast, These committees, alerted by the field supervisor of the Department of Maori Affairs, decided tat full support of the farm schools would be a first step to the improvement of farming on the East Coast.

Such improvement is an urgent question on the Coast and various measures may be taken to cope with it. It appears that the Department of Agriculture may decide to station an instructor in agriculture in Ruatoria. Furthermore, that Department is keen to demonstrate on one or two selected farms in the district what can be achieved by improved management practices under the supervision of the Department of Agriculture. The purpose is to show up to date farming methods for the benefit of the whole area. Subdivisional fences and effective use of manure are among the main problems of the area. The people's interest in the farm schools augurs well for the future.