Thursday, October 29, 2015

Kiwi Tractors - a humble national icon

Kiwi Tractors: A Humble National Icon
by Steve Hale
Bateman - Hardcover - RRP $39.99

From lifestyle blocks to vineyards, high country stations to boat ramps, the humble tractor is a much-loved and instantly recognisable feature on any New Zealand landscape. The tractor is a part of our national identity, as Kiwi as pavlova, Marmite, and a silver fern on the sacred black jersey.

In Kiwi Tractors, Steve Hale elicits some delightful stories of affection from Kiwi owners for their tractors.

During his research for Kiwi Tractors Steve found himself continually taken aback by the depth of knowledge possessed by various tractor owners, their zest for restoration and passion for collecting.

The owners and their distinctive personalities make each profile unique, such as  Inna and Darcy Bishop who had their wedding photos up on the bucket of a sparkling John Deere, or contractor Klinton Wade who has been known to trawl the internet watching tractor-racing videos for hours.

Then there are the blokes who have been known to ‘hide’ recent machinery purchases down the back of their farms from disapproving wives, or to ‘store’ tractors for mates, who then, only when the coast is clear, drive their recently acquired machines home and hide them away from view.

The vehicles themselves have led varied and interesting lives.  Auckland’s iconic White Lady towing vehicle was initially a port tractor, ending up in the harbour itself at one stage before being rescued by Peter Washer from a Kumeu farmer’s paddock.

Interspersed among these profiles of Kiwis and their tractors are photographic essays on the annual Hahei Tractor Bash, the Edendale Crank Up, and National Fieldays tractor pulling as well as stunning spreads of state-of-the-art 2015-vintage tractors.

Whether tractors are meticulously restored or well-worn and weather-beaten, the owners are proud of their iconic New Zealand piece of machinery. Even Steve himself found it hard not to fall in love with some of the tractors in this book.

About the author:
Steve Hale is a journalist, rugby coach and school teacher with a passion for rugby and a zest for life. He is the author of The Kiwi Man Cave (with Matt Elliott) and lives in Te Aroha.

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