NZ’s oldest agricultural show opens gates to thousands in Waimate North

A calf club competitor takes a break during a previous Bay of Islands Pastoral and Industrial Show.

A calf club competitor takes a break during a previous Bay of Islands Pastoral and Industrial Show.
Photo: RNZ / Peter de Graaf

Thousands are expected through the gates as New Zealand’s oldest country show returns to Northland today.

Founded in 1842, the Bay of Islands Pastoral and Industrial Show is just two years younger than the Treaty of Waitangi, and has been held since the 1880s at the Waimate North showgrounds, midway between Kerikeri and Kaikohe.

The show has been interrupted twice in its 181-year history – first by World War II, then by Covid-19.

Association president Graham Moor said last year’s show, the first since the pandemic, drew about 7000 people.

He was expecting similar numbers today.

This year’s show would feature the usual trade stalls, children’s rides, displays of rural skills, dog trials and equestrian events, plus a reinvigorated Savouring the Source – a show within the show celebrating Northland’s best food and wine.

Moor said cattle numbers were still well down due to breeder nerves about Mycoplasma Bovis, but calf club competitions would be back and dairy goats would be on show for the first time in many years.

The small animals’ tent, an annual highlight for children, would also be back.

“It’s just a great opportunity for people to meet together again. We’ve had a year of it since Covid, but we’re still figuring out how to get back together as a community. The show is one of those things which has done that for us every year since 1842.”

Apart from its longevity, another thing that set the Bay of Islands show apart was its setting, Moor said.

“I think we’ve got the prettiest showgrounds in New Zealand with beautiful stands of puriri trees and all the history that goes with it. There’s no stress, it’s easy to get there, and the parking is free. Just come and enjoy yourselves.”

This year Moor was hoping to recruit fresh volunteers to keep the show going into the future.

“We’ve got an ageing group of volunteers putting on a huge event for the community. I’ve done it for 30-odd years, and it’s getting harder,” he said.

“The satisfaction comes from seeing rangatahi having a really good day and interacting with the farming community.”

The gates open at 205 Showgrounds Road, Waimate North, at 8.30am.

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