One hundred years ago, on 23rd June 1910, a group of thirteen farmers gathered in Palmerston North and formed the New Zealand Holstein Friesian Association. What makes this occasion rather close to my heart is that my husband's great-grandfather was one of the thirteen, and I have his diary recording the event.
Just getting from the farm to Palmerston North was quite an undertaking. On Friday 17th June he went by buggy into Opotiki (the town where I grew up, and which my fictional Ruatane is based on). He caught the coastal steamer Ngatiawa at 1 pm, and arrived in Auckland the following morning at 11 am (in the diary he comments that "We would have been earlier only we had to put off sheep at Orakai"). He stayed two nights with family members in Auckland, then on the evening of Monday 20th June he caught the train to Palmerston North and arrived there about midday on 21st June.
One hundred years ago this circuitous route, first north to Auckland, then south (despite the name) to Palmerston North, was the fastest way of making the journey. Today it's about a seven hour drive, on sealed roads all the way.
Communication could be a trial. Great-grandfather had arranged to stay with a Mr Lovelock of Palmerston North, one of the other founders of the Association, but he found that "Lovelock was not in to meet me so I borrowed a horse from the New Zealand Loan and rode out there. When I got there I found Lovelock had missed me having gone in in his Motor car for me. But he got home about eight o'clock." Next day "I could not ride into P/N with him in his car as I had to take back the horse. But I came home with him this evening, and I rather like riding in the car."
He obviously did "rather like" it, because a little later he became one of the earliest motorists in Opotiki.
Thursday 23rd June's entry includes "We all went into P/N after dinner we went to the Holstein meeting had a good talk there and formed a Holstein Association." Here's the page:
The following day he began his journey home, retracing his route by train, steamer and buggy, and on Thursday 30th June was back on the farm. He'd had quite an eventful two weeks.
The Association still exists, and this week has been celebrating its centenary. I've found on their website a request for any descendants of those thirteen men to contact the association; I'll bundle up some of my information and send it off to them.