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A day for the brave and the hardy

The FCANZ National Fencing Field Day (NFFD) looked good on paper. Being held around the country in conjunction with the FCANZ conference, it can be challenging to organise an event at a one-off location that changes every year. 

But the Stratford A & P folks were great to deal with, the facilities looked good, 25 exhibitors had signed up – both FCANZ partners and other agricultural suppliers – adverts and editorial had been put in the local papers (thanks Sue Rawson for the list), and we had a top demonstrator organised in Paul Van Beers, who had contract fenced in Taranaki for over 20 years.

The weather forecast was looking dodgy, but we were hoping our luck would hold out like it did at Mosgiel last year and Waimate North the year before that. The day started with a Future Post demonstration, driven in by Fencequip post drivers. Then, just as Stihl was doing a chainsaw maintenance presentation with a nice group collected to listen, a ‘prolonged squall’ (polite words) came across again, and that was pretty much the start of not just wet, but also very cold conditions.

Then Paul Van Beers – having farming blood and being suitably dressed from head to toe in wet weather gear – started demonstrating the importance of the underground work; stays, stay blocks, breast blocks and foots. Assisted by Tony White (who purely has fencing blood and dressed in heavy duty raincoat and shorts and a good pair of work boots) they slithered in the growing pools of water and mud. They managed to get a foot on the strainer, but the breast block hole became a duck pond. Paul then went on to wire work with a plan that electrics connections would follow. Despite the weather, a group gamely stood by, being provided with some invaluable tips for even the most experienced of fencers.

Greg Burton had brought down his pride and joy, a Trailmaker vehicle that he had built himself, along with an interesting array of vintage fencing tools and old totara posts that had been erected with some intentionally questionable wirework that was intended to start a discussion.

Greg was also the judge of the FCANZ Ute toolbox competition, with Greg having the best laid out contractor’s toolbox in his Ute that you will ever come across. Therefore, Greg was banned from entering to allow others a chance. But Greg was very impressed with the winning entry of David Swansson from Bang-it Fencing. The toolbox being, in Greg’s humble words, “nearly as good as mine, except he doesn’t have a generator in it.”

To be admired were two South Islanders who should have known better.  Lindsay Hayman who wore white leather sneakers and kept them remarkedly clean. George Williams wore brown leather dress shoes, having the excuse “I didn’t pack anything else not thinking I would need them”. One hazards to guess how and where the shoes were cleaned up in order to carry George through the rest of the conference.

By around noon the hardy exhibitors were standing in pools of mud inside their tents and showing signs of hypothermia. Hugh from Strainrite was one of the first to break down, and as organisers we soon caved as the day had turned into a wash out.

Normally, we have to pack down and remove all the demonstration lines and fill in post holes etc. Thankfully, Martin from Gallagher knew a local farmer who was happy to pull down the driven posts and the Stratford A & P Showgrounds came to the rescue in the tidy up. As the bus full of conference goers headed off and exhibitors bolted Paul was in his own zone putting on the cut-out switch on the demo fence. With “the job not finished” we had to convince Paul it was over and to head home.

Thank you to all the exhibitors who supported the event and got washed away (see list), Shane Beets and Nick Terry for marking out the sites on the Monday prior to the event, the FCANZ Board and our Operations team, Greg Burton, John Noakes, Paul Van Beers, Tony White, Jason Millar and to Angelina Beets who “manned” the gate all day.

Oh and as we left, it started sleeting with snow in Stratford within the hour.   

Article written by Debbie White

Published in the Conference23 Wrap-Up in WIRED Issue 70 / September 2023 by Fencing Contractors NZ

Thanks to all exhibitors

  • Beattie Insulators
  • Bunnings
  • Carr Family Foundation Rural Heath and Wellness Van
  • Carters
  • Delfast
  • Exclusive Tyres
  • Farmlands
  • FencePro
  • Fencequip
  • FMG
  • Future Post
  • Gallagher
  • Kinghitter
  • Kyne Equipment
  • Permapine
  • Power Farming
  • RD Petroleum
  • Revolution Postdrivers
  • Steel & Tube
  • Stihl
  • Stockade
  • Stoney Creek
  • Strainrite
  • Waratah