Farmers' Club at Waima
A Maori farmers' club, believed to be the first of its kind, is achieving good results at Waima, in the Hokianga. With the help of trained agricultural specialists, settlers there have embarked on a progressive programme of farm improvement.
Concerned at their short dairy season and resulting poor returns, farmers at Waima decided three years ago that some action was needed to make their farms more productive.
The average size of the farms is 120 acres, and although part of the land consisted of alluvial flats only a very bare living was made. Some of the men found it necessary to seek work in the off-season and others took secondary employment to provide sufficient income to keep their families.
Consultation of Specialists
The farmers enlisted the help of Mr G. George, the local storekeeper, and that of Mr A. C. Price, a member of the Bay of Islands Farm Improvement Club, in gaining access to information and advice for improving their farming methods.
One of the first steps was to visit the grassland research station at Kaikohe. Mr W. Burns, Department of Agriculture advisory officer at Kaikohe, then visited Waima and discussed further the benefits of heavy initial top-dressing, pasture control and pasture species most suited to the area.
With a fuller understanding of the knowledge that could be made available to them, farmers formed a club with 26 members, in November, 1961. Since then the club has had lectures and visits from a number of other specialists, including pig advisory officers. farm improvement club advisers and veterinarians. They have visited improved farms and attended farming conferences.
Have Built Own Piggeries
Four of the men have built their own piggeries with money advanced by the Department of the Maori Affairs and by their local dairy company. The Department of Maori Affairs has also assisted them in many other ways.
At nearby Whirinaki, a settlement with similar problems, a club is in the process of formation. People there have been impressed with the achievements at Waima.