Transcript of Southland Times story 7 May 1994
Long-serving Southland shearing contractors Elbert and Margaret de Koning were accorded life membership of the New Zealand Shearing Contractors’ Association at Palmerston North this week.
Special guests at the association’s annual meeting, Mr and Mrs de Koning were honoured for their contribution to the shearing industry and the association during the past three decades.
Mr and Mrs de Koning built their business from a one-gang operation at Orawia in 1961, later establishing bases at Ohai, Otautau, Riversdale and Lawrence and developed the largest shearing contract business in Australasia.
“I started out on open run shearing contracts,” Mr de Koning told the meeting. “Contract shearing was unknown then in the south, but when I approached all my clients, 80 percent said they would like their sheep shorn on contract.
“Sheep numbers were increasing astronomically back then because of the suspensory land development loans available to farmers from the Government.”
Elbert de Koning, 58, played a major role in setting up the New Zealand Contractors’ Association, starting with the establishment of regional committees throughout New Zealand in the early 1970s.
“Contract shearing was a very competitive business and it still is, but my concern back then was to try and improve things for all us,” Mr de Koning said. “There will always be enough room in the industry for reputable and good contractors.”
In accepting life membership, Mr de Koning said the contractors’ association had helped build a stronger
industry and people with the business acumen, intelligence and leadership ability to do a good job for New Zealand’s wool industry.
The couple have retired to Invercargill. They retain business interests in the shearing industry.