By Malcolm Campbell.
“A friend of mine, a neighbouring farmer, pointed out to me years ago, that when writing anything, to try to avoid the use of the word “I”. To bear this out, I was talking to someone once about a third party and the other person said, ‘He is an eye specialist’ and I took it that way and said, ‘No, he is not, he does whatever it was ..’ and the first person said, “No, he is.’ Very confusing.
“I have done this and I have done that; indeed I have done just about everything.” So here goes!”
Fortuitously a copy of ‘The Informer’ came into my hands. At this stage, ‘The Informer’ is not being delivered in the Waihi general area. I hope that changes. There were two ‘Letters to the Editor’ that caught my attention. One was written by Toby Williams Forestry Spokesman for Federated Farmers. The second was written by Ady Cole-Ewen. Both letters concerned the Environment, the first about forestry slash and the second about farming fish in the Hauraki Gulf. These letters are merely samples of an extremely wide malaise that has engulfed our communities.
I approached the Editors of the paper to ask if I could contribute some articles for publication. So why would I do that? There have been tumultuous changes, in particularly to Local Government. Now I have to confess that I am getting beyond elderly, and this is oddly very important. You may say leave it to the younger generation. More oddly, we are all still learning. As a farmer with seventy years hands on experience, the learning continues.
My father purchased a block of 200ha of totally virgin peat land in 1951 on what was commonly known as ‘The Swamp Road’ now a part of the Paeroa-Tahuna highway. There were no improvements on the land at all, none. No drains, no fences, not a single blade of grass, just scrubby tea-tree and a wiry type of rush. Without having a clue about how to tackle what had been considered waste land, work began in January 1952. The equipment we had, was totally inadequate for the task at hand. However, we learned by our many mistakes, the hard way.
Clearly to this day, I remember driving our little Allis Chalmers Tractor off the thin veneer of clay that stretched across the swamp, onto our land. We began mowing the scrub prior to the first cultivation of this absolutely fertility-barren soil. Why is all this important? It is because we were comparatively free people. The land was purchased and work began. The first house for myself and my wife Joan was built in 1959 by my father and Colin White and a subsidy was paid to encourage rural housing. More or less, we were equidistant from Paeroa and Te Aroha, where I was born.
This is where the age factor comes in. When a crime is committed, say a car crash or an assault, the first people the Police will want to interview are the witnesses. As said, I am a witness of events back to 1952 and before.
Until 1980, we stayed by comparison a free society. 1980 is now forty-three years ago and unless you are 55-60 years of age, you will not be aware of events in the 1980s.
In developing the farm there were no requirements for Resource Consents or Engineering Reports. We simply worked. In 2005, we moved to a new challenge six kilometres south of Waihi township where the problem was gorse, blackberry and at times too much rain.
In my next article, my reference will begin in 1936 before most of the people in the Coromandel were not even born.
From here on we can get rid of the ‘I’, it will be historical fact.
Cheers Malcolm Campbell
Caption: Allis Chalmers tractor - part of Malcolm's beginnings.