Our Land Our People; the story of our farmers

Author of farming book Our Land Our People Ross Hyland has based his book on stories about farming throughout New Zealand.
Robyn Edie/Stuff
Author of farming book Our Land Our People Ross Hyland has based his book on stories about farming throughout New Zealand.

With farming in his blood and a mission to share good stories in mind, author Ross Hyland has achieved just that with his new book Our Land Our People: In search of farming excellence.

The book was focused on positive and good hearted stories about the New Zealand's farmers and their lives working on the land. 

Hyland said he travelled the length of the country finding stories of farmers who have helped to shape their regions. 

The books features Southland farming families, one of which is the Morrison family.  

This families journey started when a great–great– uncle William Cumming landed in New Zealand from Scotland in 1862, Hyland said.

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Author of farming book Our Land Our People Ross Hyland has based his book on stories about farming throughout New Zealand.
Robyn Edie/Stuff
Author of farming book Our Land Our People Ross Hyland has based his book on stories about farming throughout New Zealand.

Cumming was one of hundreds of new settlers who had come into the region hoping to win a property by tender during the great land sales in Southland in the 1870s.

He began farming at Gropers Bush in Southland before shifting to Waikaka Valley and buying a property in 1875 at what was now known as the Willowbank corner. He named his new farm Rosedale.

"This is where Donald Morrison farms to this day."

This family made for a good story because "Donald and Andrew Morrison have been at the forefront of change in New Zealand farming but their story had humble beginnings," Hyland said.

Going through the book, Hyland stopped on a page special to him, a story about the Wallis family who farm at Minaret Station in Wanaka.

Sir Tim Wallis was a pioneer of the live capture of Fiordland wild deer with helicopters, opened aviation and adventure tourism companies and started the airshow War Birds of Wanaka, all while still working their land on the station.

Hyland went away with the family on a backcountry muster.

"I spent two days with them. They flew me in to see the autumn muster. It took us a whole day to walk out with the sheep."

Hyland spent time with the family prior to brothers Nick and Matthew tragically perishing in separate helicopter crashes in the past four months, shaking the close-nit Otago aviation community.

The brothers were both interviewed and photographed for the book, which went to print before their deaths, Hyland said. 

"This is really quite hard to talk about. They are all so passionate about their farm and flying." 

The former Lincoln Agritech director is revisiting the farms, this time with the finished book in hand.

"I have noticed a recent rise in negativity towards farmers from some commentators. This book is unashamedly positive and showcases some great people."

The access he got to farms and farmers was based upon a mutual respect and a want to share the stories of people in the industry, Hyland said.

"It was maybe just the way we went about it. We didn't talk about the balance sheets and the money. We talk about the people and their stories."

The book, which took over two years to complete, shares the story of 24 farms and farmers. 

Hyland completed every interview, took all but five of the photos, wrote and published the book himself. 

 

 

 

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