Tractors fascinate

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 11:35 24/02/2014
Southland Times photo
NICOLE GOURLEY/Fairfax NZ
Peter Johnstone with part of his model tractor collection.

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Stamps, buttons, teaspoons, teddy bears, records - most of us have a collection of some kind stashed away at home. Some are proudly displayed, others are kept under lock and key. But all come with interesting stories. We continue our series on the weird and wonderful things our readers collect. 

Peter Johnstone's passion for Massey Ferguson tractors began more than 60 years ago when he was just a boy.

He was driving his father's Massey Ferguson for up to 10 hours each day when he was a 10-year-old because he enjoyed it so much.

"Of course you would not do that today but that is where my interest started."

He recalls asking his father if he could work on the tractor before school but did not tell his mother, knowing she would disapprove.

"I started at 5am and did three hours' work. Mum was not pleased - she gave me and dad a tongue lashing."

The retired Lorneville farmer is a Massey Ferguson convenor for the Edendale Crank Up and has five Massey Ferguson tractors, dating back to 1956. However, it's Mr Johnstone's collection of model tractors that defines his passion - he has more than 300 tractors and about 50 trucks.

He started his impressive collection when he was 12 years old with a tiny Massey-Harris tractor, which is the oldest piece.

"All children probably had them but many lost them in sand pits - the model is quite expensive now, I saw it selling for $300."

Massey Ferguson models make up the majority of his collection, which also includes Ford, John Deer and Japanese Kubota tractors among others.

"I need to have a few other things to prove I am not one- eyed."

His father also had a Bedford truck, so miniature Bedfords also feature in his collection along with Volvo trucks because he enjoys driving them.

He has kept one of the miniature Bedford trucks for 60 years.

He searches the world for miniature tractors he cannot get in New Zealand.

When he was in Chile a few years ago with not-for-profit volunteer based organisations AFS he could not find any.

"Kids don't have that sort of toy, but the students searched so hard and eventually managed to find me one little green tractor."

On many occasions his wife Wendy has helped him procure pieces.

Once such tractor is among his favourites and came from England - a limited edition ‘Tractor of the year 2012' - only 2012 were made.

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However, his most precious piece is a hand-made to order, 165 Massey Ferguson - another limited edition.

Visitors and media have come from throughout the world to see his collection.

"It makes me proud. It's nice people can appreciate them as much as me."

- The Southland Times

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