End of an era in the old hut

Professional cowboy John Kimber leans at the entrance of the heritage hut.
Matthew Salmons/Fairfax NZ

Professional cowboy John Kimber leans at the entrance of the heritage hut.

A Winchester rifle hangs above his chair, images of the people of the great plains nestle amongst antlers above a crackling fire.

A thin trail of smoke lifts from his cigarette, curls around his black musterer's hat and wafts to the ancient wood ceiling of the century old hut.

"Last bit of history standing around this area," he says, subconsciously tapping his carved cane on the floor.

Some of John Kimber's collected finds, including his father's axe heads.
Matthew Salmons/Fairfax NZ

Some of John Kimber's collected finds, including his father's axe heads.

Professional cowboy John Kimber has spent a lifetime in the saddle as a drover, horse breaker, trainer and musterer, and five years in the settlers' hut on a Swannanoa property, surrounded by mementos of his adventures.

When he and wife Trish leased the property five years ago, it was purely by chance that he discovered the hut was more than an old wooden shed.

It was around 116 years old and Kimber said he thought a family of up to nine could have lived in it while the homestead was constructed.

John Kimber rests by the fire in the more than 100 year old heritage hut.
Matthew Salmons/Fairfax NZ

John Kimber rests by the fire in the more than 100 year old heritage hut.

"I had a look in here and it was full of rubbish, about two feet deep, so I cleaned it up."

When he found the wood board flooring and fire place, he knew he'd found the perfect spot to convert into his "office space".

He spent more time in the hut than the house, wood carving, sketching and working on writing a story of his life and travels.

"Well, I'm 71 now and a lot of things have happened in that time. Big changes here in New Zealand and the world."

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Originally from Gisborne, he had been a professional cowboy all his life, droving up and down New Zealand, moving cattle through the outback of Australia and working the lands that forged the legend of the cowboy in Montana, USA.
Now he has moved to Oxford.

READ MORE: Trainer no longer fights with horses

"It's a bit sad, leaving this old place, leaving all that history behind. I suppose some developer will buy it, knock it down and turn it all into houses some day.

"I suppose the old shed will go to wrack and ruin."

The walls were festooned with every conceivable accrutrement of the cowboy lifestyle, including 15 different types of horse's bridle, each with a separate use.

"It was mainly stuff I used to use, some of it's obsolete now.
 

"I've even collected a few old guns – you can't be a cowboy without the old six shooter ... I suppose I'm holding on to my past with all the memorabilia," he said.

Kimber began the process of packing up the collection for transport to his new home in Oxford on Tuesday evening. Most of it would be back on display soon, if he could find the space.

He still broke and trained horses but he was "on the pension now, it's just a sideline ... just to keep the interest going".

He and Trish owned seven horses between them, which would accompany them to their new home in Oxford. One of those was John's pride and joy; Grasshopper, a 22 year old American bred stallion.

 

 

 

 

 

 - Stuff

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