Apart from going on family holidays, none of these boys had done any traveling outside Europe. They knew very little about the way of life in NZ or how farming was done here.
When each of them decided to come they knew they were taking on a challenge. All three of the boys were still living with their parents back home and so aside from everything else, they knew they would be doing their own cooking and washing!
“I always wanted to do it when I was younger. I had a mate come out to New Zealand 2-years ago and he said it was a great experience and that made me want to come out here,” says David.
For Sid, the big attraction was that he left the English winter behind. “Everyone is happier in the sun,” says Sid.
The experience itself was a big motivator for all three them: “I wanted to get more experience in the work I enjoy doing and to see more of the world,” says Mark.
Mark and David had been working for farm contractors back home and Sid had been working on the family farm. They all had experience driving tractors, baling and hauling silage. In New Zealand, all three lads had been working in the South Island: Sid on the South Canterbury Plains and David and Mark in Culverden in North Canterbury.
“Basically everything is on a bigger size, back home there would be a lot of smaller fields, where as out here all the fields are nice and big” says Sid.
“Some of the ground can be very steep”, says David.
“And over here”, says Mark “they use trucks for different things; they haul in the bales using trucks whereas at home you would just use a tractor and trailer. Back home its wetter and you wouldn’t get trucks into the fields.”
“The North Island is more like Devon", says Sid, "more rolling hills and sandy beaches.”
New Zealand was in the midst of a dairy boom at time of the interview and one marked difference the boys noticed was how dairy farming was done over here.
“Big difference is the milking sheds,” says Sid, “they operate with high capacity and low input. Less labour. At home you would be milking 50 or 100 cows whereas out here you’d milk 600-1000 cows in half the time.” “Also”, says Mark, “the cows are left out in the field during winter. Back home they winter indoors; the winters are not as wet or cold out here. They do a lot of baling for winter feed, whereas at home we do more foraging.”
Their normal working week was around 70-80 hours. When the weather was good this could go up to 100 hours for some weeks. “But says David, “on a quiet day it is so laid back. When the weather is good you work the hours but it balances out.”
“Our accommodation has been brilliant”, says Mark, “we’ve been living with our boss’s mate. We each have our own room, can do whatever we like, whenever we like. It’s been great. His mum has cooked for us some nights; or if we are going to be late he sends us a txt asking if he can get something out of the freezer for us for tea.”
The boys pay rent, and pay for their food and other expenses. “If you didn’t go out to the pub every night, you could still save money” says Sid.
“Me and Mark” says David, “are on a good wage like, we’re really happy with it”.
“The bosses are much more trusting and laid back over here” says Sid. “If you only had a little experience you’d still get put on the wrapper or something and if you’re capable of driving that, if you prove yourself sort of thing, they’ll just keep putting you on bigger gear.”
“Back home they would be very cautious and only let the older guys drive the big gear, “ says David.
“Out here they crop as much as they can,” says Mark “so you do more work on steep ground. There is not as much steep ground at home.”
Chorus of replies “laid back! “
“Everyone is so friendly,” says Mark, “easy to talk to. Every time you go into a farm, the farmer comes out and shakes your hand.”
“You go to the pub on a Friday and meet five or six different people every night. Blokes just come up and introduce themselves. Just makes you feel so welcome,” says Sid.
“Yeah” says David, “ you end up knowing more people in a New Zealand pub than you would at home in your local pub.”
“The social thing has been a big part of what has made the trip so good,” says Mark. “Our boss and work mates bring the beer out after you finish the job. You don’t normally have beer at home, normally it’s tea and coffee.”
Mark and David had just had a week off work travelling around. They’d been to an agricultural field day in Gore, in the far south of the South Island. They then travelled to Queenstown and Wanaka.“It was a good bit of fun,” says Mark, “and nice to see other places.”
“Brilliant” says Mark “people in Queenstown and Wanaka were just so friendly.”
“In between Wanaka and Queenstown the scenery was amazing,” says David. “Yeah, definitely different from Devon,” says Mark.
Mark and David had a go at driving the Monster Truck, described as a ‘school bus on steroids’. (Monster Trucks at Monster Mountain, just outside Wanaka). They’d also done a bungy jump and some kayaking.
Sid’s experience of white water rafting in the North Island he said was “just awesome”.
They all agreed that Kiwis were into their high adrenalin kicks. “You can do some of this at home, but it is much more available in NZ, says Sid. “You hear more about it over here,” says Mark and David, “and it is just much easy to do.”
“They just like their sport, don’t they” says David.
“It is a bit of fun really,” says Mark, “I’ve got a South African rugby shirt and you go to the pub wearing that and they take the piss. It is pretty easy to get the kiwis stirred up about rugby.”
“Back home people aren’t into it as much as over here, people really get into it over here,” says Sid.
“David and I were just 18 when we come out. It was fairly young to be travelling but definitely a good thing to do. It is good to get away from home. Any problem you have at the airport or with your car breaking down, you’ve got to sort it out yourself,” says Mark.
“You do your washing and your own cooking and you really learn to rely on yourself instead of other people,” says David.
“Drinking so much beer!” says Mark. “Yeah” says Sid “drinking bloomin’ larger”.
All three of the boys bemoaned the fact that they couldn’t get bitter out here, and could only get cider sometimes. They said the best thing to do was just drink what everyone else was having.
“They have different names for things sometimes,” says David, “out here they call a combine a header; whereas at home what we call a header is the bit that goes on the front of the combine.”
“And there is one weird road law they have” says Mark, “that took a bit of getting use to: where you’ve got to give way to people turning left.”
“If you’re thinking about doing it, get on and do it,” says Sid.
“You haven’t got the worries like at home,” says David. “And,” says Mark, “it’s a beautiful place, weather’s good, scenery is great and everybody is so nice to speak to.”
“It is out of the ordinary for blokes to wear trousers over here, that’s how good the weather is,” says Sid. “Going around in shorts at home would just be unheard of.”
“Basically take half your cloths out of suitcase before you leave. The chap I come over with still had clothes folded in his suitcase when he went home; his mother folded up 15 t-shirts most of which he never even unpacked."
As soon as you get here you start buying your own stuff, it’s just like living at home, you want something you just go out and get it,” says Sid.
“Like your work boots and overalls I wouldn’t bring them over; just buy them over here; it’s only extra weight in your luggage,” says David.
“As soon as we got here our boss gave us the loan of a car to drive round so we could go to town to get the stuff we needed. He told us the best places to go and how to get a bank account and stuff like that. It is all set up for you and really easy. At home there is E-Bay, out here they have the same thing only it’s called ‘Trade Me’. That’s how we got our car, and didn’t pay too much for it”, says Mark.
“You gotta try a Furgburger, “ says Sid, “you haven’t lived unless you’ve tried a Furgburger” (the Furgburger is an iconic food experience that you can get in Queenstown).
“Work hard and play harder,” says David, “and forget home. It is all so easy going when you get here”.
“It is good to travel around a bit,” says Mark, “it is a beautiful country. Some of it is like Devon but a lot of the countryside is just very different.”
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Mark Cottey. 22
From Yarcombe, Devon, Working for a contractor
David Pidsley. 22
from Dunkeswell, Devon. Runs a contracting business
Sid Tucker. 24
From Luppit, Devon.
Works on the family farm
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