Merv Curragh has been involved in the field days since it began in 1951

An original supporter

by Ann van Engelen

Merv Curragh has been an avid South Island Agricultural Field Days supporter since its beginning in 1951.Merv Curragh has been an avid South Island Agricultural Field Days supporter since its beginning in 1951.

“The field days began at Motukarara near Birdlings Flat — the first events were small. I was 21 years old and ran the 12 speaker sound system because radio was my hobby,” says Merv.

“My equipment was ancient by today’s standard — there was no power to work my valve gear and no such things as transistor amplifiers. I experimented with my transistors and made up an amplifier, which worked well.”

“The second year the Minister of Agriculture was giving a speech on the back of a truck, and I put my hand on my amplifier to find it running terribly hot. I opened all my caravan windows and fanned it with cardboard to cool it quickly before it exploded.”

He says they didn’t have much machinery on display but had Land Rovers, which took people up the hills for an hour’s demonstration.
“The event then moved to Wigram and Tai Tapu on alternate years until now permanently at Kirwee.

“We have had a lot of fun — the farm machinery wasn’t very advanced back then and consisted mostly of tractors, ploughs, grubbers and agricultural stuff. There has been a huge advancement over the years.

“I was an engineer, and our business has adapted as farming changed from horse-drawn implements to tractors and other modernised equipment.

“It has been an adventure and exciting to see how the machinery got bigger and advanced.

“I am 89 years old now and have loved being involved but am not doing the commentary this year as I am unwell, but I hope to attend one of the events and am looking forward to seeing how it is going. I never imagined the field days would get this large. It is a great place for the farmers to have a day out and see what is new.”