Century Farms honoured in Lawrence

Families who have each owned and farmed the same properties for more than 100 years came together in May to celebrate generations on the land.

The 13th New Zealand Century Farm and Station Awards took place in the Central Otago town of Lawrence from 24th to 26th May. The 40 families from around the country were honoured for their grit, determination and dedication to farming their land for more than a century, with each receiving a bronze plaque and certificate of acknowledgement.

Collectively, these families had farmed their properties for more than 4,000 years, creating a legacy that would live on for years to come.

Having first been welcomed at a function on the Friday, more than 270 people attended the awards evening at Simpson Park on the Saturday. Each family’s story was shared with those in attendance, providing a backstory for the presentations that followed.

History was a thread that ran through the whole weekend in Lawrence. A farm and town tour was also held so people could explore the area and Otago’s first goldrush town.

What are the Century Farm and Station Awards?
The New Zealand Century Farm and Station Awards programme aims to capture and preserve important rural history, which might otherwise be lost through the generations.

Families submit narratives of their farm history with copies of related photographs and supporting documents, which are then archived at Wellington’s Alexander Turnbull Library.

New Zealand Century Farm and Station Awards Chairwoman Karen Roughan says it was a great weekend and the town got behind the event making it memorable for the families.

“Thirty-nine of our 40 families were present this year so it was wonderful nearly all could come to Lawrence to celebrate this very significant milestone with each other – it’s a special weekend and the families who visit tell us it is very much worth the trip.”

She says there had been a consistent number of sesquicentennial award entries over the last few years for families who had been on their land for more than 150 years. The Matthews family, who received their Century Farms award in 2016, were still the longest serving family who had applied, having farmed their Kaitaia property for 180 years, she says.

Farmlands is proud to be the Foundation Sponsor of the awards, given its own heritage in the rural sector. Chief Executive Peter Reidie says the annual awards were special because they celebrated the pioneering families who built the foundations of New Zealand agriculture’s success.

“A quote I vividly remember is: ‘We do not inherit our land from our parents, we borrow it from our children’,” Peter says. “To me this sums up what great New Zealand farming is all about – leaving our land in a better condition than we received it.

“Century Farms is great to showcase what these families are doing with their land and how their farming practices have changed over the decades because they will continue to change. Each of these farming families have been looking to the future, while learning from the past.”