What to do after a 40-year career dairy farming in a district you have a great affinity for? Well, why not write about it.
Long-time Federated Farmers member Peter T Wilson, now 82, has just written and published a 400-page book on Tikorangi. It tells the story of the people who lived, and still live, in the Taranaki district, as well tracing the development of its social and business infrastructure since 1865 – the school, hall, sports clubs, dairy factories, post office and local store.
Among the stories of 100 or so local families that feature in Effort and Enterprise: A Journey through Tikorangi’s History is that of Feds National Board member Mark Hooper’s mother (the Bint family).
There’s also some pages on the local branch of the Farmers’ Union, forerunner to Federated Farmers.
Minutes from the inaugural minute book show the 8-15 members who would usually attend Tikorangi Farmers’ Union meetings in the 1920s took on all sorts of heavy discussion topics: the compulsory grading of cream; Hydatids and the management of the dosing strips; the postal system and Rural Delivery; the telephone service and the overloading of party lines; the unacceptable frequent power cuts; concern for the tractor users when the’ tyre tax’ was replaced with a’ fuel tax’. And there was the less consequential too, before supper, such as the note “one of the Misses O’Carroll be paid 5/- to boil the billy”.
It’s not the first time Peter has penned a history book. This latest one follows a book on Tikorangi’s neighbouring district – Peter’s home – of Lepperton. The second edition of “Even the Dogs have Forgotten to Bark” was published in 2020 and there are still a few copies available via Peter’s website, www.wisdomisashelter.co.nz
Peter describes his path into tracing local history like this:
“I was born and raised within these country districts, and began my working life as a school teacher before marrying and becoming a dairy farmer in Huirangi for 40 years. With his wider family and that of his wife living in the area, interest in the history of the local area grew. Recording the events of the past, because they impacted the activities surrounding them, became a time absorbing past-time.
“Another family member started a book writing project and on his untimely death the project was passed down to me. While still actively farming for the next 25 years, a gradual accumulation of information built up.”
But it wasn’t until his retirement that Peter could dedicate time interviewing as many residents and ex-residents as possible. With that input the book really begin to take shape.
“I think a common thread with all who undertake such work is that I wish I had asked a lot more questions of the older people in my life. My grandmother (I descended through her second marriage) told us stories of the cottage her father built for her and her small children after she was widowed and how she barricaded the door in fear at night. My childish imagination had all sorts of pictures of the cottage near some dark and fearsome bush but it was not until writing the book did I find out that I had walked past that cottage every day on my way to school,” Peter wrote.
Professor Sir Richard Faull, who grew up in the district with his four bothers in the 1940-60s, said in a foreword to Tikorangi,: “In this very first compiled history of Tikorangi, Peter has woven the personal stories and reminiscences from the pioneer and more recent families around the historical facts, records and significant events of the bygone days—and provided this excellent, comprehensive and detailed record of the ‘life and times’ of Tikorangi.”
Peter contacted Federated Farmers so word could reach not only ex-Tikorangi residents around NZ but because he believes many will find people they know in the book and enjoy reading of the development of a country district that could be similar to their own.
- For a copy of Tikorangi, deposit $50 per book (+$8.50 if you want it posted, $13 if you are on a Rural Delivery) at TSB 15-3945-0206917-00 and advise Peter of your name and address by email (firstname.lastname@example.org). OR you can go to the website https://www.wisdomisashelter.co.nz where you can order and pay securely.