TIME CAPSULE REVISITED

The following is an article sourced from the Warkworth Museum Archives,
about the closing down of Percy Tolhopf's dairy farm.
(Original article ran in Anchor News March 2000.)


Like something out of 'Dr Who', Field Officer Bill Hanson was catapulted back into the dairy industry of the 1920s when he went back to Percy Tolhopf's farm at Ahuroa this month.


The bachelor in his 90's - who was thought to be New Zealand's last cream supplier - left his property last year when he went into residential care.  "Its like a time capsule," Bill said after visiting the deserted farm. "Everything's still there. It's like farms used to be in the 1920s and 30s - really pioneering, basic old fashioned dairying".  Percy was a former shareholder of Kaipara Dairy Company, which merged with New Zealand Dairy in 1987, and he continued supplying cream to the end. With strong butter markets in the UK, the practice of separating the cream on-farm for manufacture and feeding the skim milk to pigs or calves was commonplace until the 1960s.  At the time of the Kaipara merger, Percy was one of the only two remaining cream suppliers to the Helensville dairy factory.  "It was a way of life for him," Bill said.  He was part of the colourful Bohemian community, which settled in the area from Czechoslovakia during the late 1800s.


With the change to supplying whole milk, Percy turned to farming a few cattle and stayed on the property until he could no longer look after himself.  Bill said he felt a strong dose of nostalgia going back to Percy's derelict property, and sadness that he had the job of closing down the last of a special breed of dairy farmer.