Handover will see historic saleyards spruced up
The historic saleyards at Matau in eastern Taranaki have been donated to the tiny backcountry district.
Conveniently located beside the hall, the saleyards were given away last week by New Zealand Farmers Livestock just before the annual ewe and lamb fair.
The first sale at the saleyards is believed to have been held more than 100 years ago, in 1908.
NZFL regional manager Stephen Sutton said the donation was a win-win for both the company and the district, because it removed confusion over the title of the land occupied by the saleyards and hall.
He said the saleyards were at the point where they needed maintenance, and he expected that the district would lavish some love and attention on them.
He described the annual fair as "a little bit iconic" and one that always attracted hardcore local support.
"It's a big gesture for the company, because we had to front up with cash to give it to the district."
A valuation had valued the saleyards at $10,000.
Sutton said a document detailing the donation was presented to hall society chairman Trevor Jupp and farmer Jack Rawlinson.
Jupp said the community was thrilled to gain ownership of the saleyards, and had guaranteed the company the right to hold its annual sale.
"They handed over the title and we paid a dollar for it.
"We'll have to do some maintenance. At the moment, the yards are being held up with a bit of baling twine."
A community working bee would soon have them shipshape, he said.
"They're a good asset for the community."
Although sales used to be a regular feature of the district - at one stage, they were held fortnightly - more recently the annual ewe and lamb fair has doubled as the district's day out.
Last week's sale of 1500 romney ewes and 400 lambs attracted buyers from the King Country and South Taranaki. The top price was $111 for a five-year-old ewe.
"Prices were $9 or $10 better than last year - the stock looked better," Jupp said.
There's a tradition that the farmer whose animal fetches the top price puts his animals up first at the next year's sale.
"Sometimes it works, and sometimes it's better to be second or third," Jupp said. Rawlinson, 71, has sold a line of romney ewes at the January fair every year for more than 50 years, driving them to the Matau saleyards on horseback from his 465-hectare sheep and beef farm 1.5km away.
Steve Morrison, chief executive of Allied Farmers, which jointly owns NZFL with 42 stock agents, said the company had a long- standing relationship with the Matau community.
NZFL would continue to hold the annual fair at the saleyards as long as the community wanted it to, he said.
"In effect, the donation gives clarity to the community about the ownership.
"It's a nice gesture that is appreciated by the hall society and the community."
Last year Allied Farmers sold its saleyards interests in Taranaki, Manawatu, Waikato and King Country to NZFL.
The Dominion Post