A last minute cancellation reduced the attendance a bit but with Garrie and Laurie were – Fyfe Bygrave, Richard and Diana Still, Gordon and Elaine Haszard and Peter and Lynn Miller. I think we all arrived at the Motel at nearly the same time though coming across country from Cambridge at the afternoon rush hour caused my driver some anguish. Navigating Morrinsville did not help - lots of cow statues and the motel being not well signed on our GPS gizmo, added to the furore.
Fish and chips amply supplied for the evening meal. Not unlike the Loaves and Fishes for the multitude, there was plenty for all. Apparently came from the shop where Jacinda once worked. No discernible left cut bias to the chips. A general conversation as people caught up with each-others happenings and those of others too. A picture of two empty chairs for the absent Butcharts was considered but never taken. The next day’s activities were outlined and we all retired to our rooms. Well appointed, with internet access and a card outlining the activities over the next three days.
Farming & Fonterra
March 16th: Assembling next morning, Belfield Transport Services then took us to our first point of call, the Fonterra transport hub. We listened to a full account of how the Fonterra tanker fleet is organised, the number of drivers, the method of the tanker collection and the instrumentation identifying the location of the tankers on their collection runs and relevant data as to milk temperature and sample collection. When we were at the NPBHS, my father was sledging cream to the roadside for daily collection for the Uruti butter factory, a small locally owned co-operative. When I stopped farming, the tanker called every two days to pick up chilled milk for transport to Hawera and manufacture into any of a full range of products. That factory was a very large production unit of a NZ wide business. I remember having been once seated at an internet kiosk in Rome, and was able to check on the previous day’s collection details. An ability that never entered my head when I once struggled with Latin declension.
This Transport hub attends to the setting up of new tankers as they come into the fleet and the de-commissioning of old trucks – at the 1.2 million kms point. We left with an impression of a section of Fonterra well managed by our hosts, an excellent example for any business to follow.
So engrossed were we, and our hosts too for that matter, in the Fonterra exposition that we over-ran the allotted time. We arrived then at the Power Farming HQ to find that we had missed lunch at their cafeteria. No matter, an interesting account of how this company began; two brothers home from WW2 selling some small tractors and gear. Now a multi-national entity with an impressive array of machinery, under cover or out in the yard having just been delivered, assembled for on-forwarding to places throughout NZ. Again, we left with an impression of a business well managed and with due care and attention to their staff, exemplified by the food available to them in the cafeteria. The photo heading this article is of a large Friesian cow, quite the largest example in Morrinsville.
Coffee & Blueberries
Onwards again to Christine and Mike’s place, a boutique coffee enterprise that roasts and grinds beans from various sources world-wide and is too, a training point for aspiring barristers. Their building had formerly been a herring-bone cowshed with its round yard still evident. Coffee all round and some welcome nibbles. Some of us purchased kilo size bags of ground coffee. Paddocks of silage and/or hay were being harvested nearby.
Next point of call was to Jan and John’s blueberry orchard. Undercover and trickle irrigation. Quite obvious from their account of the background was the expense and hard work behind the orchard development, not to mention the damage from a tornado. We were impressed by the blueberry boxing machine which clattered and clunked away, in the absence though, of blueberries. Jan has developed an ice-cream business using milk from a local farm that is pasteurised and processed into a pleasant product – we know, for we all had some. Jan has a substantial trailer which she takes to various places to sell ice cream.
A lovely meal and conversation enjoyed by all. I was splendidly set up. I saw Lynn saying something to Garrie and seeing her dancing eyes, I sensed I was in trouble. Grist to Garrie’s mill it was too for he asked us all to charge our glasses and drink to Peter and Lynn’s wedding anniversary! I’d clean forgotten to remember the occasion. Uproarious laughter from all present with which I had to join in – ruefully!! Kind suggestions made as to how I might rectify this error. Back to the motel. Some round-eyed ladies emerging from Laurie’s car which arrived ahead of Garrie’s Landcruiser.
The Wallace Factory & Gallery Visit
Friday the 16th:
We left for The Wallace dead stock rendering factory. Some art work in the office where we signed in and were supplied with Fluoro jackets. Our guide had come from Zimbabwe. Been here for a number of years now. We were joined by a lady from the office who had come to NZ from South Africa. Another guide was an Aussie I think. We all trudged off to the point where a number of dead goats and cows were lying. Not far away was a heap of cut up pieces of meat before it was tipped into some cavernous appliance or other for processing into a meat meal. I remember using blood and bone meal from the Fletcher works at Patea for my pigs. A rather high octane product I used to think. The Wallace factory very keen not to mix pork meat or bone with that of other species. Every now and then a warning siren would sound. Apparently, the factory boilers were being tested. I couldn’t hear all the dialogue but the others were keenly interested. Oils extracted from the processed meat would end up in cosmetic products. . A quick chat to a local Home-kill butcher who was unloading hides from his truck.
Then to the chain where the skins were trimmed and graded. Adjacent were three great drums in which hides were processed. Rather like a laundry. At the far end of this floor was a set of machinery where hides were rolled out, then, in a semi-processed state, were stacked. Racks of paper thin calf skins intended I think, as parchments for the Middle East, were nearby. Off to the composting area where paunch contents were being processed into material suitable for gardens and Kiwifruit orchards. Quite a few barrow loads in that lot. Our guide was a young lass who was a quality control officer. She has ambitions of eventually doing a PhD in microbiology. We wished her good fortune as we left. Back to the office and signed out. This visit demonstrated a rather impressive use of animals that, dead from various causes, would otherwise be buried. The Wallace factory have gone to great expense in minimising as far as possible, their environmental impact.
By absolute contrast, we then went for lunch at Anna Stretton’s Fashion Store where her partner, as we were finishing our meal, outlined the charity work with female prisoners that she had embarked on. An unfortunate moment when there was a collision with a lady edging past the waiter who wheeled away after taking an order. She was shaken but unhurt and assisted, made her way back to her car.
Off then to the Wallace Gallery. The Gallery is in stark contrast to the factory. No dead meat there but an interesting variety of art including a Len Lye derived piece that shimmered as the piano below was played. Fyfe purchased something for ‘Tricia.
Across the road to the Museum and a couple of intriguing films of local history. These reflected a history common to many NZ rural communities – local shows, parades, Scottish dancing and so on. A Sports Day at Uruti once enlivened when the hide concealing the clay bird operator was hit by the contents of a shotgun. The indignant operator emerged refusing to carry on. Quite appropriately, the Museum indicated the wartime history and the contribution of the Morrinsville District’s young men.
That evening was the Dinner, held in the local Thai Resturant. Plenty to eat for all and well presented. The ambient noise too much for anything but a few words and a most appreciative thankyou to Garrie and Laurie for a very thoughtfully arranged program that neatly showed what ‘goes on’ in and around a small country town. We were glad of the chance to be there.
Back at the motel, we bade farewell to Laurie who was off to a Bridge Tournament in Rotorua the next morning. And to Fyfe who was off to catch a plane back to Dunedin.
And so to Saturday morning and the Barbeque Breakfast cooked by the inimitable Richard Still and Diana providing skilled backup with toast and bread buns. A pleasant talk as we had the breakfast and, all too soon it was time to go. All over for another year and Richard and Diana unanimously voted as hosts for next year. A tentative suggestion to confer honorary Moyes membership on Dennis Swan. In 1951…1955 he would have rather been lynched!!
Separately we made our way homewards: Morrinsville 2018 was a good do.