Heavy fog added to the atmosphere of the 64th National Ploughing Championships, held recently at Chertsey, near Rakaia, in Mid Canterbury.
But he has since given a lot back to the sport, as a contestant and a regular judge or steward, since 1991 at regional events and NZ finals.
Furniss is also an authority on the rules and regulations on ploughing and recently updated the manual for organising and running a NZ final. He has been an executive member of the NZ Ploughing Association since 1999
“I have also been a member of the Waikato, Rotorua-Reporoa, Manawatu and Wairarapa Ploughing Match Associations, chairing organising committees or acting as secretary in the background making things run smoothly.”
During those years, Furniss was supported by his late wife Pam who was a newsletter editor and executive minutes secretary until 2005.
He started farming on the family farm at Huntly, then moved to 525ha at Reporoa, of which 400ha was covered in ti-tree. He then returned to Huntly, fattening sheep and beef and breaking in more land.
Furniss had a dairy farm at Galatea for
10 years, then farmed 405ha of wet hill country in the Pohongina Valley, breeding Romneys
His last property shift was to buy the southernmost farm in the North Island – Kawakawa Station at Cape Palliser. “We could see Wellington Heads and we were actually further south than Blenheim on an east west line.”
The farm was 2025ha plus a further 400ha of leased land. However, only a third of it was able to be farmed and it was divided into seven paddocks.
The land was steep going from sea level to 616m and was very dry, so no chance to fatten any stock, he says. “Winds of 100km/h were just a gentle breeze.”
In those days the Furniss’s started farmstays, B&B and two-day farm walks – out and back with accommodation and meals supplied and luggage transported.
“We got up to 150 trampers per season, mainly New Zealanders. Our son and daughter-in-law, who now run the farm, have expanded it to a three day tramp.”
Furniss, now 70, has remarried and with wife Christine lives in Masterton. Both are still active in the New Zealand Ploughing Association.