Still ‘Pioneers’ Today
In the sphere of agriculture, Horohoro has been a valuable testing ground for pumice farming. The huge land settlement schemes of today drew benefit from Horohoro's past.
Since 1930, Horohoro has produced four winners of the coveted Maori farming award, the Ahu-Whenua Cup, presented by the former Governor-General, Lord Bledisloe, to help uplift Maori agriculture. One of the cup winners, Mr Foley Eru, is still farming at Horohoro. He was a member of the original band of Ngati-Tuara pioneers, and he and his wife can tell some harrowing tales of what it was like roughing it back in 1930.
Even today, the Horohoro country is still being pioneered. Five new settlers were brought in only this year to take up new blocks of land adjoining the original 10,000 acres. All of them are young Maoris who won their blocks in a Maori Affairs ballot. They were selected purely on their merits as farmers. Tribal backgrounds counted for nothing, and though some would have difficulty tracing their descent to any particular tribe, the Horohoro district settlers turned on a most hospitable welcome dance to the newcomers.
Typical of the 1962-style ‘pioneers’ is Tom Collier, 26-year-old sharemilker from Galatea, who has won a 169-acre block within a mile of Horohoro settlement. Tom and his wife Honey are flat out to ‘make a go’ of a long-awaited chance to get a farm of their own. They paid down the required deposit of £100 from money saved during three years sharemilking, when they ran pigs and even a cockerel fattening enterprise to bolster savings.
Tom moved on to a farm complete with modern house and cowshed, fences and stock, but there is plenty of work ahead of him.
Although Horohoro settlers have not erected a statue on the marae to commemorate Sir Apirana Ngata, who made their pioneering possible, they have preserved his name in a fitting manner. Two roads have been named after him—the Apirana North Road, and the Apirana South Road, and there is also a third memorial high on the slopes of nearby Mount Haparangi. Sir Apirana's initials, ‘A.T.N.’, were planted in living pine trees during a Maori afforestation programme of the thirties.
Pioneers have left a rich legacy for the modern generation. These pupils of Horohoro Maori School enjoy amenities of one of the best endowed schools in the country.