New Zealand had quickly developed the “conference habit” and in 1892 the Canterbury A. and P. Association convened the first colonial conference of delegates of kindred associations. This became first a biennial and then an annual meeting, and developed in 1914 into the New Zealand Council of Agriculture. The early conferences were a gathering of the foremost leaders in the farming industry. Regular members, such as Thomas Brydone, John Grigg, John Roberts, Sir John Hall, the Hon. Matthew Holmes, James Holmes, J. Studholme, D. D. Macfarlane, R. D. (later, Sir Douglas) McLean, W. C. (later, Sir Walter) Buchanan, and J. G. (later, Sir James) Wilson, gave distinction to any gathering of farmers. Sessions were usually attended by local members of Parliament and often by Cabinet Ministers. One important meeting in 1905, dealing with rural education, was addressed by Dr (later, Sir Truby) King, with the Governor, Lord Plunket, taking part in the discussion.
The conference reached its peak of energy, influence, and usefulness in 1911. It was opened by the Governor, Lord Islington, who described the activities of the English Central Chamber of Agriculture (directed to the scientific and technical aspects of the improvement of agriculture) and so started a discussion which led in 1914 to the end of the informal conferences and to the inauguration of the Council of Agriculture. In 1924 this became the Royal Agricultural Society of New Zealand.
An annual conference of A. and P. Associations and of Breed Societies is held under the auspices of the Royal Agricultural Society. This conference concerns itself mainly (but not necessarily authoritatively) with matters affecting the running of shows. With the increasing stature and influence of the Farmers' Union (now Federated Farmers) most of the matters that were once considered by the conference are now in the care of the federation.