Story of family a farming one

21:16, Mar 27 2014
Jenny Archer
Jenny Archer

They had to barge their sheep and wool out, drive over windy roads for more than an hour to reach town and school, but generations of Archers continue to farm one special piece of Marlborough Sounds land.

Taking in Tuna, Harvey, and Duncans Bays, the property over the Opouri Hill from Rai Valley has been farmed by the same family for 130 years. They are fourth generation Peter Archer, fifth generation son Scott and even some help from sixth generation grandchildren.

The family are preparing to showcase its rich history at the upcoming United Nations International Year of Family Farming event at Carluke Domain, Rai Valley, on Sunday.

Peter's wife Jenny is part of the team organising the event and says the family will have a large tent with photographs, artefacts and information about their time farming in the area.

They will be joined by other families in an event Jenny hopes will stress how important family farms are and have been to the Rai region and New Zealand as a whole.

Family stalls will be joined by many Marlborough and Nelson organisations linked to farming and marine farming such as Diary New Zealand, Vets on Alabama, Farmlands Real Estate plus plenty of food stalls including REAP wild foods, story time and a bouncy castle for the children and live music.


Musical entertainment comes in the form of the Wairau Plains Music Muster and Phoebe Leov by day and, in the evening, Mel Parsons and the Bitches Box.

The day will also have speakers including Doug Avery of Grassmere talking about the journey of New Zealand farming families, Barbara Stuart of Landcare Trust on the subject of environmental sustainability on the farm and Rick Rawlings who is talking about alternative power and selling to the grid.

Jenny says farming has played a main role in the development of the Rai area. Her family's farm prompted the building of the road over the Opouri hill, which in its early days cost 10 shillings to drive over. The first Peter Archer, says Jenny, was a drover and used to drive his cattle over the Maungatapu all the way to the West Coast.

Generations later, the family has expanded their operations to include two marine farms as well as land-based activities. All this and more has been recorded in a book about the family by Peter's mother Betty Archer, called Dinghy to Daimler and Beyond: A History of Tennyson Inlet and the Archer Family. The book was later updated by Peter and his sisters Sue, Beryl and Nanette.

Jenny hopes farmers and townies alike will come for a fun day out.

"This day is a celebration of family farming - it is a day for everyone," she says.

Gates at 10am. $5 for the day programme and $20 for Mel Parsons and The Bitches Box.


What: United Nations International Year of Family Farming event.

When: Sunday, March 30 from 10am.

Where: Carluke Domain, Rai Valley.

Entry: $5 for the day programme and $20 for Mel Parsons and The Bitches Box. 

The Marlborough Express