Home-Motu - From bush to grass

Farming

The first farming families were the Fishers, quickly followed by the Richardson’s. Their first houses were slab whares until they could later build a home with pit sawn timber.

In the winter the settlers would fell the bush around the house and the piles would be burnt in early summer. The next job would be stumping usually with a team of bullocks or by blasting the huge stumps with gelignite.
The first crop sown would be turnips, chou mollier and rape. When the sheep or cattle had eaten this, grass seed was sown.
Fences would then be erected using totara posts and rimu battens which would have been split on the farm.
Farms tended to be sheep and cattle.
There were nine or ten dairy farms. The cream was railed to the Kia Ora factory at Makaraka.

Farming prospered until the soil became poor and the stock suffered “Bush Sickness” in the 1920’s. Farmers spread super phosphate by hand or with horse drawn spreaders until 1948 when it was flown on by Tiger Moth aeroplanes. Large amounts of fertiliser are still flown onto the farms today.
Two descendants of the original Richardson settlers, Peter Richardson and Gaye Crawshaw, still farm in Motu today.

By Mahina

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