The 100th Waimarino Agricultural & Pastoral Show was a celebration of local talent and Kiwi can-do
Rene Haeberli entered his prize-winning cabbage in the show after fellow gardener Rick Joyce spied the hefty vegetable growing in his garden: “It was just by chance I entered – it would probably still be sitting in the cabbage patch if Rick hadn’t encouraged me”; originally from Switzerland, Rene moved to Raetihi, near Mt Ruapehu, 15 years ago but had never entered the competition before.
Monster cabbage grower Rene Haeberli was full of the joys of rural living after his success
at the 100th Waimarino Agricultural & Pastoral Show, held on February 19-20 at the Raetihi Showgrounds. Awarded first prize, his all-natural whopper of a cabbage, a green mass of puckered leaves, was judged the “top cabbage of the district”.
“Well, that’s country life for you,” says Rene. “I’ve got a winning cabbage and my pig is a movie star.” (Rene’s pig is to feature in Peter Jackson’s upcoming film The Hobbit.)
With the flanks of Mt Ruapehu as a stunning backdrop, Waimarino’s centennial event delivered a heady dose of community spirit and local talent – a celebration of all things archetypically Kiwi.
The locals were out in droves, heaving armfuls of freshly picked fruit, vegetables and flowers to the produce shed for judging. Lifelong Raetihi resident Pixie Chambers is a show veteran. “Everyone pulled out a jar or two of jam and nipped down to the garden to see what veges they had. The bench was literally groaning under the weight of it all.”
Pixie won the prized Ohakune Perpetual Cup for the most points overall and her husband Brian also cleaned up in the vegetable division, taking home the cup.
Pixie and her sister Jocelyn Lauburn; all of the entries at the Waimarino A&P Show are grown or handmade by the participants – these vegetables came from Pixie and Brian Chambers’ garden.
The produce shed was packed to the brim with entries. Bright yellow sunflowers and perfectly formed dahlias of every imaginable colour lined the stalls, vying for the top prize. Jars of jam and preserved fruit along with home-made cakes, biscuits and breads showcased the talent of locals and tested the willpower of many.
Local schools also showed their support, with imaginative entries in the children’s section. Among them were planes and cars crafted out of fruit and vegetables, sand saucers and creative floral displays.
Pixie was up until all hours, baking and preparing decorative floral arrangements. “A lot of work goes on behind the scenes,” she says. “The organisers spend hours getting the shed ready – we’re often there till midnight.”
But their hard work didn’t go unappreciated – this year’s event was being touted as “the best yet”.
“It’s always a great weekend,” says keen vege grower Rick Joyce, “but this year everyone took part and it was the best I’ve been to.” Originally from West Auckland, Rick moved to Raetihi with his family 10 years ago.
Pixie Chambers entered three different cakes along with her sunflowers and jars of home-made jam, pickles and chutneys, but she insists this kind of industry is nothing out of the ordinary. “This is just what we do – it’s country life.”
“It’s always a great weekend… but this year was the best I’ve been to”
Story: Ellen Dorset
Photographs: Paul McCredie