Posted by Jim Rayner on Jul 16, 2019
PP Alan Meyer PHF – My 50 Years in Rotary
President 1973/74
It was probably inevitable that I would become a Rotarian.  My wife Patti’s grandfather, Harold Royds, was a Rotarian in Invercargill and her father J S Royds was  the foundation President of the Queenstown Club before coming to Waimate and becoming the 5th President of the Waimate Club serving during the year 1950/51. I joined the Waimate Club on the 26th October 1967.   Over these past 50 years there have been a number of changes in Rotary.  I clearly remember one very warm night in the Savoy it was Alan Grant in the chair and announcing to the club. “Gentlemen you may remove your ties!”  We always wore a jacket and tie! Now dress is very casual.
I remember for years how on Rotary nights half of the members would go to the Waimate Hotel for a few drinks then come strolling into the Savoy right at starting time.  I always thought that was divisive,  I suggested to the Directors that we should purchase a sideboard with a lockup cupboard to hold some bottles of liquor,  we agreed to this and it made a big difference to the fellowship in the club.  This brought members together and was very successful.  We also made a small profit on the sale of the drinks. 
We used to have family picnic days up at Lake Aviemore and out at the Blackhole.   Sons and daughters nights were very popular.  We decided to have a weekend fishing at Aviemore, we inquired could we use the shearers quarters at the station.  The quarters were modest but served us well for a good number of years.  There was good fellowship at nights with many tall tales shared.  We were fortunate there were enough members with boats.
In 1974 I  introduced to Rotarianne’s  the organisation known as “The Inner Wheels” from which a successful club of 23 members was formed in Waimate. My wife Patti Meyer became the Foundation Secretary for the Inner Wheel Club of Waimate.
When asked what kept him coming back every week to Rotary for 50 years he said. “That’s easy it’s the friendships, camaraderie and the fellowship, Why wouldn’t I keep coming back?”
The following taken from the Rotary Club Bulletin 23.9.93 is a reflection on Alan’s great love for trees and their Botanical names..
His introduction of Frank Soltau  Classification,  “Parks and Reserves Management”   for membership in the  Rotary Club of Waimate is classic Alan Meyer!.
Fellow Rotarians,
 Having become acquainted with the specimen alongside me through a mutual interest in taxonomic nomenclature, allow me to introduce him as follows.
Genera: Homo Sapien
Species: Soltaurius
Variety:  Frank
General Description: Introduced from Germany to New Zealand about four years ago.  Expected to be beneficial to other botanic material.
Variety Description:  Quite tall frame, rather small girth or D.B.H. Appears to be thriving on a solely vegetative sustenance.  Has already shown exceptional regenerating ability.
Finally: We hope this recent introduction thrives in our environment.  Fellows will you please cultivate and nurture this addition to our collection!
PP Alan Meyer PHF
Rotary Service
  • Inducted into Rotary 20.10.67
  • Assistant  Sergeant of Arms  1968/69
  • Sergeant of Arms   1969/70
  • Director  1970/72
  • Chairman Community Service 1971/72
  • Vice President  !972/73
  • President 1973/74
  • Chairman Classification Comm. 1975/76
  • Chairman Classification Comm. 1977/78
  • Director/ Past President  78/79
  • Chairman Rotary Information Comm 79/80
  • Paul Harris Fellow 30.11.95
  • Attendance Officer  (Many Years)
Community Service
  • .Alan was responsible for forming “Farm Forestry of Waimate” which on 27th June 1958 became “South Canterbury Farm Forestry”.  Alan represented the Waimate County Council on this organisation.
  • He is a Past President of the Waimate Branch of  Federated Farmers and served on the executive of  S.C. Federated Farmers.
  • 26 years as a foundation director of South Canterbury Rural Cooperative Society, then CRT and  Greenfields later to become “Farmlands”
  • 6 years as a Director of Drysdale Carpet Wool Marketing.
  • Played a part in the reticulation and efforts to get electricity to the rural areas of Waimate and South Canterbury (a five year project)
  • Foundation member of the Studholme Willowbridge Y.F.C. later a member of Hook Y.F.C.
  • Served on the committee which made the recommendations for the planting and laying out of the Waimate Golf Links.
  • 3 years on the St Augustines Vestry.
  • Very involved in the creation of Ravensdown Fertilizer Co-op.
  • Probably the first farmer north of the Waitaki to supply P.P.C.S. with lambs.
  • Very early supplier of wool to the Wool Marketing Co-op.
Alan Meyer – Living At Akatere
The old house at Akatere had 6 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and one toilet. Plus out towards the yard there was a men’s quarters with two bedrooms and a bathroom.  When we sat down for a meal there were  usually 3 teamsters and farm workers, my two parents, 5 of us children,  the oldest being Wilfred, myself, brother Stuart, then brother John and youngest was sister Margaret.  Then my mother nearly always had a young woman helping her so very often there were 11 persons sitting round the dining table.  This all without electric power, so all the cooking was done on a coal –wood burning range.  The washing was done by hand.  Usually 2/3 cows were milked night and morning.  Usually a sheep was killed once a week for cooking, and a quite large vegetable garden was kept,  plus a hen run with about 12 hens for eggs. On the 17th October 1958 we turned on the electric power at Akatere.
For the farm there were usually about 12 draught horses (no tractors) plus 2 or 3 light horses for riding and driving in carts etc.  There was always at least one paddock of oats which was cut with a binder and stacked to be cut into chaff to feed all the horses.  All the gorse hedges were cut by hand.  I can clearly remember the first tractor.  It was a little Fordson about 20HP on steel wheels.  I mentioned earlier, no electric power, we had kerosene lamps in the kitchen and living rooms and candle sticks to take to our bedrooms etc.  There were also two or three open fires to warm the house.
I started school in 1930 going to school with elder brother Wilfred.  Not sure for how long we both rode ponies to Waituna Creek School.  There were about 6 or 7 pupils ravelled to school on horses.  They were kept in the gum tree plantation next to the school during the day.
I remember there was a Hydraulic Ram in the water course that made quite a noise pumping water up a hill to the house.  The ponies could hear the noise and were rather shy about passing the noise.  Another comment I make is that the small creek where this hydraulic ram was working was running permanently with sufficient water to operate the rams.  It no longer runs regularly.  Some years later there was a cartage motor lorry owned by a Mr. George lane, it took a number of pupils to school.  He had a carrying business and he had a lift off canopy that he put on the truck, the canopy which had no windows had seats along each side and across the front.  He took about 15 or so children to school in the morning and lifted the canopy off at the school then went on with his carrying jobs for the day then he would come back to the school at 3 p.m  put the canopy back on the truck and take the children home,   (A very early school bus)
When I first went to Waimate High School I rode a bike to Gunn’s Corner and we were picked up in a seven seater taxi and travelled to Waimate.  There were six or seven pupils who went to High School this way.  I went to High School for Approximately two and a half years. 
The war had been going for a while and my father was losing men (In the army etc.)  He was farming 1200 + acres at Akatere plus 150 acres at Studholme.  Another attraction, there was a tractor to drive.  Later on Wilfred and I volunteered for the Home Guard, there was a unit at Waituna with about 20-30 attending,  we met there about every 2-4 weeks.
I can still clearly remember at High School Assembly one morning when Mr. Leadbetter made the announcement, (“We are at war with Germany”) Later on during the war there was a request for Linen so the Government built I think about 10 or more Linen Flax Factories through South Canterbury, Otago and Southland and farmers were asked by Government to grow Linen Flax (Linseed) I remember 1 year we grew about 150 acres, our nearest factory for processing the flax was at Makikihi.  The crop was harvested with flax pullers towed behind tractors.  The puller pulled the crop out of the ground and bound it into sheaves which were stoked till dry then picked up in large 4 wheeled trailers towed by rubber tyred tractors and taken to Makikihi to be processed.  We were always told that the linen was required for the fabric on aircraft wings etc.  I still think there were other uses as well.  I don’t know how well the crop worked out return wise, I think it was quite worthwhile.  My father never told me! That was one of our war efforts.
During the war of course we had petrol rationing and people were allowed so much (coupons) but some of our tractors used petrol for starting etc. then ran on kerosene so we had access to a bit of extra petrol.  I think all farm produce was taken by the Government at fixed prices, I don’t think there were any wool sales or fat stock sales.  So much for some of our war experiences.
I was notified that I was to be medically examined, I passed A.1 but never called up.  Several of my friends same age were called but I never was, I think there was a committee of senior farmers who told the authorities who to leave and who to take.  We were working pretty much on producing food etc. for the war effort which was very important.
I cant remember the exact year but I think the war was still not over when we bought our first and only Header Harvester it was an International 62.  Towed behind a tractor with its own motor.
These years were very exciting and interesting.  We had started putting on lime. It came by train mostly from Oamaru in bags about 20 to the ton.  It was picked up by motor truck and spread by the truck via a lime-sower on the back of the truck. One man drove the truck and another man tipped the bags of lime into a box on the lime spreader.  The spreader was about 14 -16 feet and the lime dropped out of the spreader.  This meant that if any ground was missed it left a patch of ground without lime.  These patches of ground that were missed showed up very clearly.  The sheep and cattle left them, and also no clover grew where there was no lime.  Another thing that became very noticeable was any seedling gorse that showed up in these missed patches the sheep and cattle wouldn’t eat it.  I still strongly believe that liming helped to reduce gorse!  As we progressed liming the farm we began to increase the stock numbers.  We doubled the stock numbers in quite a short time.
We had also ceased trying to grow grain crops.  Too near the hills and the cloudy weather that goes with that.  I am positive that if we measured the sunshine hours within a mile of the Hunter Hills we would find a record of very low hours.
In my younger days I had a great love for Engineering I was self taught. .  Away back I bought an ex army generator which had been used for powering searchlights. I powered it by hooking it up to the Model M tractor power takeoff and made myself a welder.  With the tractor revving it could cut through railway irons. I made a bull dozer blade for our TD9 tractor.  I was able to fix many of our farm implements and keep things working.  I also made up the steel frames for many of our farm sheds.  I probably enjoyed driving the crawler tractors more than anything else on the farm.  We had firstly a T20 then a TD35 and then we had the TD9.  I remember coming in at night with my ears ringing and not being able to hear anything for half an hour from the noise of the tractor and its squealing tracks. No ear muffs in those days.  I was lucky in having a very good stock man in Des Matheson who worked for me for 25 years this allowed me to have the time to be involved in many outside organisations such as Rotary.  It’s been a great journey!