Although there have been local ploughing matches in New Zealand for many years, there was no national championship until the Atlantic Silver Plough trophy was instituted in 1956. In the earliest recorded competitions, which were held on a local or district basis, horse-drawn ploughs were used, but, since the late 1920s, tractors have come into favour in most competitions. In New Zealand the first move towards forming a national organisation to control ploughing as a sport followed the establishment in 1952 of the World Ploughing Organisation (W.P.O.). One of the principal objects of W.P.O. is to promote world championship ploughing contests, and as participation in these is confined to countries which possess “a national organisation which organises an Annual Championship Ploughing Match at which competitors have qualified for entry by being successful in local or regional ploughing matches”, it was necessary that a New Zealand controlling body should be constituted. Accordingly, about 1955, the New Zealand Ploughing Association was formed and affiliated with the world body. The New Zealand Ploughing Championships were inaugurated in July 1956, and have been held each year since. The contest is sponsored by the Atlantic Union Oil Co., which donated the championship trophy, the Atlantic Silver Plough. This trophy is an exact replica of the first plough in New Zealand, which was used by the Rev. J. G. Butler on 3 May 1820 at Kerikeri, Bay of Islands. The silver model is mounted on a kauri plinth and the engraved plates and carved frieze at the base were executed by E. Mervyn Taylor.
Each year the New Zealand champion ploughman is sent overseas to compete in the W.P.O. “Golden Plough” Championships. In 1961, at Grignon, France, H. A. Magson won second place in the world championship contest. The final for the 1967 World Ploughing Championships will take place at Lincoln College, Canterbury, in May 1967.
The following are the winners of the Atlantic Silver Plough since the inception of the competition:
|1956||J. C. Brooker (Hawarden)|
|1957||R. J. Heenan (Winton)|
|1958||R. M. Kingsbury (Ashburton)|
|1959||S. M. Allison (Milton)|
|1960||B. J. McPhedran (Timaru)|
|1961||H. A. Magson (Rakaia)|
|1962||W. A. Simpson (Oamaru)|
|1963||C. E. Read (West Melton)|
|1964||E. J. Croy (Ashburton)|
|1965||H. A. Walker (Edendale)|