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The Katikati A & P Show

The annual Agricultural and Pastoral Show - A&P for short - has long been a mainstay of many rural communities. Each year a group of volunteers spend hundreds of hours organising the many events. The 2001 Katikati A&P show will be the fiftieth show in which Owen Henry has been on the committee. Here he recalls highlights of earlier shows and the ongoing association of the Henry family with the event.

The Katikati Agricultural and Pastoral Society had its beginnings with the first show on the 13th March 1913, which just happened to be a Thursday. This day was chosen as people coming from Tauranga by boat could come up the river on the high tide. Names that still appear at today's shows either on the committee or as competitors are Morton and Leech fourth generation and Turner and Henry fifth generation.

At the first show Thomas Henry was on the committee and his daughters and sons competed, either riding or showing utility farm horses. Their youngest son George and his wife Dena and their four children Joan, Dena, Ross and Owen carried on the tradition. While the four of us were competing we used to ride the same pony named Dolly in our various age groups. Dena had to work around dancing events as well. Over the years as Ross and Owen's children were growing up they too competerd in the pony and hack rings. Owen's two daughters Anne and Lynette were on the dancing board as well.. Their mother Sally was on the dancing committeee plus Sally also plaited pony manes and tails so Bryce,Keith and Shane could compete in the pony ring. Shane's son Jayden is now with the Wrestling Club on show day so that's the fifth generation of the Henry family taking part. The 78 years the show has been in existence, at least one or more Henry has been on the committee, competing, working on show day or judging horses or ponies at the Katkati A & P Society show.

My first real memory of a show at Katikati was in 1941 when my maternal Grandmother was given the job of looking after me for an event. I tried all the tricks in the book to get my hand out of her grip but no such luck, the problem was I was more interested in side shows than riding ponies. Both parents must have thought I had a fair chance, because i won a cup for Boy Rider under 10 years.

left: The Henry family on horseback.

For many early local families the A&P show was an important date on the calendar. The traditions and hard work continue today as a hardworking group of volunteers organise each year's show.

All photos on this page courtesy of the Henry family.

In the early shows horse transport was the only form of getting to the show unless you walked. Horses were either ridden or put into gigs - carriage - wagons - drays or sledge. Show horses would be ridden from one show to another sometimes overnight then compete the next day, but still looking a picture. When I was 14 years old my sister Dena and I rode to Waihi the day before the show then rode home the next day with all the big trucks and traffic on the road. Of course distances today seem to have become less with the speed of travel and better roads. The other families who would ride over the Tuahu Track from Te Aroha were the Duncans, Halls and Thompsons. They would stay the weekend, arriving Friday afternoon, show on Saturday, then dance at night when the trophies would be presented and then ride home Sunday. When they arrived wet, a big oil fired burner would be going to help them dry out and if accomodation was a bit scarce our friendly policeman Hugh Hunter would let some of them sleep in the cells.

Some of the attractions over the 78 years the Katikati A & P has been going to entertain the crowd have been the Katkati Axemen running their chopping carnival in conjunction with show day, mounted Troops giving displays of lancers trough an O ring on a pole and recovery of a wounded man. Steer riding, for this a 7 wire fence had to be erected. The greasy pig for the boys and girls and anyone who thought they could hang onto it. The Police dog display. Mount Albert Gymnastic Club from Auckland. Ivan Bowen's shearing exhibitions when he would shear a sheep blindfolded in less than a minute. The stockman's competitions where 6 or 8 bottles would be put on the wings of the jumps and on horseback with a stock whip you would have to crack them off. Bending races for ponies and hacks. Much the same as for Tux Wonder Dogs on television today. Highland and Irish Dancing still running in conjunction with the show. Vintage machinery like stationary engines and tractors of the bygone era are always a great sight especially when they join in the Grand Parade. The Wrestling Club giving exhibition and competition bouts. Marching girls and in the last two or three years the Senior Ladies have joined the Grand Parade with the Katikati Band. Wearable Art was also introduced but it needs more advertising and participation for it to continue.

One of the features of the earlier shows when the event was smaller and cars could park in the centre was the running of Saddle Trotting or Pacing Races around the outside of the cars. Mr and Mrs Browne, (their son Maurice still lives in Katikati), and Bill Hollis from Waihi would be competitors. Waihi Show also staged the same event.

above left: The jigger chop is always a great spectacle. above right: No room for public parking like this on the grounds these days.

Early shows had pigs and sheep and we had ostrich or emu and goats more recently.

One of the biggest attractions the show has had in recent years would be when the six DB Draught Horses and their wagon came. School children were still saying goodbye to them on Monday morning. These magnificent Clydesdales and their outstanding Harness and Beer Barrel wagon were truly a great sight. Katikati A & P show were indeed very lucky to have them on display and to lead the Grand Parade.

The women of the Katikati District have always played a big part in the show; arriving with their preserves, needle work and contribution to the grand meal that was served midday. This is the part my mother Dena Henry snr played in arranging the catering of the meal for many years with the help of other Red Cross members.

Many of the exhibits in the Home Industries have changed over the years and some of the early ones were better: honey, eggs, maize, cocksfoot seed, collection of grass, sheaf of oats and oaten chaff. Oaten chaff is when the whole sheaf of oats is put through a chaff cutter. One of the most interesting Home Industries events staged was the fleece to garment competition. The sheep was shorn, the wool spun, then a garment was knitted by teams of ladies.

Katikati has always had trade space available. This part of the show has grown from one stall, a Maori gentleman Mr Paul selling curios, produce and maori bread to trade exhibits - side shows, craft stalls and local contractors with their machinery filling a quarter of the show ground leaving no room for members' cars.

above: Part of the A&P tradition: livestock and ferris wheels.

Over the last ten years the Sunday after the show there are show jumping and show hunter events and anyone coming Friday night and staying over Saturday night it makes a good weekend for them once again.

In the cattle rings the individual breeds of Holstein, Fresians, Jersey. Ayrshire and Milking Shorthorn have all been taken over by All Breed classes. The Shorthorn Breed is still shown at the Katikati Show as a Beef Breed not as a Milking Shorthorn as was the case in the very first and still shown by third and fourth generation of the Morton family. All Breed classes at the Katikati Show are the strongest of all the shows in the surrounding area of the Bay of Plenty.

All the years I have been involved with the Katikati A & P Society my wife Sally and five children have helped me at working bees and the running of the show on show day. This next show day in 2001 will be our 79th, and my 50th year on the committee. Before that I helped my father at working bees. One of my proudest moments was when I was President and the Patron George Walsh M.P. for Tauranga could not attend for the Opening of the show so he suggested to the committee that perhaps George Henry could take his place. It was with great pride that I was able to call my own father to the microphone to officially open the 1962 Katikati A & P Society show.

So long as there is enthusiasm and support for local service and non-profit organisations, the community families will keep the Katikati Agricultural and Pastoral Society Show alive.

left: You can always recognise those photos taken in the '70s by their rounded edges and the way the colours fade. We cut out the corners getting this photo ready for the website, but couldn't do much about the colours...