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Century Farm award proud, poignant time for family

Century Farm award proud, poignant time for family

Marking 100 years of farm ownership last month was a proud, but poignant time for the Hinton family of Stratford. As part of their celebrations, the family attended this year’s Century of Farms formal dinner in Lawrence, Otago, in May.

The annual dinner honours award recipients and their signifi cant achievement of 100 or more years in farming amidst stories of hardship, perseverance and success, while receiving their distinctive bronze plaque and certificate to display on their property.

While some farms hint at their past, three sheds on the Hinton’s property serve as museums, providing a very palpable reminder of its history, with rustic implements and “all the original horse gear” from a former era on display, present day patriarch David Hinton says.

He credits the family’s habit of hoarding, especially David’s uncle Robert Hinton, to the preservation of the equipment.

For David and his family, the Century Farms celebration was an emotional time, not just for the sense of tangata whenua, the strong connection they all feel to the land and their near ancestors.

David’s wife Kathryn – mother of Paula and Carl, mother in-law of Nicola (Carl’s wife) and grandmother of Laura, (4) – passed away after a prolonged illness in February and was deeply missed at the celebration.

“She was a big part of running the farm,” David says. “She did a lot of work here, she loved the farm, always working at hay-making time, shifting cattle and always went to the cattle sales.”

The family have owned and operated Field Torque, a signifi cant Taranaki agricultural sales and service business since 2006.

The family’s New Zealand history began when Jack Hinton, a bricklayer, and his wife Emily, emigrated from Birmingham, England in 1899 and purchased a farm in Beaconsfield Road, Stratford.

In 1902 they sold the farm and moved to Kawhia where they ran the local store and a 375 hectare bush farm. After the house burnt down in 1908 they moved to the present day farm in Victoria Road, Stratford, after swapping the entire Kawhia block for just 26 hectares.

They had seven children, Edith, Winifred, Sydney, John, Herbert, Roy and Olive, respectively born between 1898 and 1911.

The last of this generation, Olive, died in 1989. In July 1918, Jack and Emily purchased 10 hectares on which the Stratford Rifle Range was sited beside the existing farm, increasing its size to 40ha.

A homestead and cowshed were built in the 1920’s, but Emily died suddenly on completion of the house; until then the Hinton’s lived with their family in an old whare on the farm, which now serves as a detached laundry.

In 1938 John Lewis Hinton (known as Lewis) purchased the farm and built another homestead in 1933 for his wife and family.

This house is David’s current home. Lewis’s generation built all their houses and sheds as, like their ancestors, they were bricklayers.

In 1957, Lewis’s son, Fergus and his wife Nola, David’s parents, came home to sharemilk until 1965 when they began agricultural contracting while still sharemilking.

The business, Hinton Contracting, is still in operation. In 1965 Fergus and Nola moved to Wharehuia to purchase their own dairy farm and another of Lewis son’s, Robert returned to sharemilk on the family farm with his wife Aileen after a stint overseas.

Lewis died suddenly in 1967 after an angina attack and three years later his wife Elizabeth sold the farm to Robert and Aileen.

In 2002, David, who is Robert’s nephew, and Kathryn sold their agricultural business to David’s brother Mark and Wendy and purchased Victoria Road as it is today; the farm changed to dry stock in 2002.

In 2003, the original homestead built by Jack, which was in bad repair, along with a hectare of land was surveyed off and sold to David’s brother, Craig and his wife, Fiona.

Both the family homesteads have been restored to a high standard. Not surprisingly, the family are very proud of their history, David says.

“I’m sure Dad would have been really pleased. He would have been rapt.”

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