Agricultural and Pastoral Associations
Societies for the improvement of agriculture and for the exhibition of livestock and machinery have long been a feature of rural life in older countries. They appeared early in New Zealand. The Auckland Agricultural and Pastoral Association, founded in 1843, was the first to be formally organised; in the South Island, a show of merino sheep at Rangitata in 1859 led to the formation of the Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association in 1863. The Manawatu and West Coast Association followed in 1886, Hawke's Bay in 1858, Southland in 1867, and Otago in 1876. Sixty-four North Island and 41 South Island associations are incorporated under the Agricultural and Pastoral Societies Act of 1908, and severally affiliated to the Royal Agricultural Society. All these associations claim, in their formal constitutions, a wide range of aims which are generally similar. They include measures to improve crops, stock, and husbandry, and to better rural life. Thus, in earlier days there were frequent debates on such matters as schools and the curriculum of studies, insect pests and noxious weeds and their control, the analysis of manures, country telephones–any subject, in fact, that affected the farmer and farming directly or indirectly. Politics were avoided and membership was open to all interested and not exclusively to those engaged in farming. When, about the turn of the century, a Farmers' Union was formed, most of the matters needing to be discussed with the Government were left to the new organisation, and agricultural and pastoral associations concerned themselves more and more with holding shows.