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Mastering the art of ploughing

Novice Thomas Wilton on the tractor in the match for the first time under the guidance of his father Stan Wilton. PHOTO/KAREN COLTMAN

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Two hundred years since land was first ploughed with bullocks in New Zealand, a warm spring breeze and wettened soil made for a great day of ploughing in Gladstone on Sunday.

Thirteen people competed in the annual Wairarapa Ploughing Match Association event at the late Mick Rayner’s property on Gladstone Rd.

Wairarapa matches have been held since 1953.

It was not a qualifying event for the 2021 national Gore final but it was carefully judged with trophies to be won. Several judges, all looking for different things, allocated points for the standard of the first split from its straightness, its depth, and a tidy grass-free crown.

From then, each row was marked on whether any grass was showing and other technical factors.

A lot of tinkering and adjusting with the plough goes on at each end of a row to ensure the equipment is spot on.

Many competitors had a support crew with spanners at the ready.

Malcolm Taylor from Putaruru in Waikato won the most points on the day and his wife Angela came in second. Gavin Jones won the vintage category [again] with his 1950s era tractor.

Novice Thomas Wilton took away the cup for the under 30-year-old group.

He was the only plougher to have competed in this category since 2012.

New Zealand Ploughing Association executive member Ian Robb was charged with ensuring safety of the Clydesdales Fred Pilling brought down from Hamilton to plough with.

He was also judging.

Pilling walked behind his plough pulled by Bonnie and Susan.

It was Susan’s first time competing, so Bonnie worked to keep her focused and as straight as possible.

“Ploughing competitions are a great way to celebrate working with the land and sharing the skills of the land,” Robb said.

“It does get pretty serious though with many people having competed for more than a decade.”

There are nine North Island affiliated groups involved with the national competition.

On Monday, most competitors went on to plough in a final’s qualifying event in Sanson, Manawatu.

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