A&F Bulletin - A & P Shows: At the heart of rural communities

Columns
Wednesday, April 15, 2015

One size doesn’t fit all because all A & P (Agriculture and Pastoral) shows are unique and reflect their individual communities.

I have now had the pleasure of attending the full complement of A & P shows in the electorate and have seen first-hand how these shows provide continuity and are a reflection of the special character of the communities they represent. They also provide the opportunity for service sector businesses to maintain and build relationships with clients. 

On a personal level, it was good to have the opportunity to connect with constituents from Amberley in the south to Rai Valley in the north of the electorate.  I particularly enjoyed checking out the produce stalls where, despite the rivalry, I suspect the competitors are all good friends and that the camaraderie is more important than winning a prize.  Everyone was a winner at Rai Valley with the arrival of some much needed rain. It certainly didn’t dampen spirits and after such a dry summer it was celebrated in true rural fashion with smiles all round.

There were a few memorable highlights from the shows this season and one was at Hawarden.  As we all know, 2015 marks the centennial of the Gallipoli landings and the Hawarden community decided to recognise this connection in a very special way. It restaged the departure of the young men of the Amuri Mounted Rifle Brigade who travelled on horseback to Lyttleton to join other Canterbury Mounted Rifle Troopers. As part of the NZEF, these soldiers would go on to serve in Gallipoli, the Middle East and the trenches in France.  A special part of the tribute was that each participant in the re-enactment represented a local family member who had seen service in the Great War.  This was a really wonderful commemoration; authentic and very moving.

Another special moment was at the 90th anniversary of the Flaxbourne Show in Ward.  There I had the privilege of awarding the Royal Agricultural Society Medal for Excellence in Agriculture to Peter Chapman. This recognition of long standing commitment to the agricultural industry and epitomises all that is good about these events. 

For me, shows are all about maintaining a sense of community and showcasing the best of rural life in heartland New Zealand.  I really enjoyed the A&P season this year. I always really enjoy getting out and about in the community and meeting such a variety of constituents and learning about what makes a community tick.

Heartland New Zealand is unique and I am privileged to serve an electorate that has both rural and urban voters.  It is important for me to be in touch with the issues affecting all members of the community.