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Career Girls star in Te Ara’s latest entry’s latest theme ‘The Settled Landscape’ tells the story of country life in New Zealand. And sheep.

‘Career Girls’ is what some farmers like to call their ewes. ‘Powder Puffs’ and ‘Flea Taxis’ are colourful names for dogs. Throughout 97 extensive entries, The Settled Landscape delves into farming and every aspect of rural life – from beekeeping and shearing to country schooling and rural tourism:

Te Ara – Encyclopedia of New Zealand launches The Settled Landscape entry on Monday 24 November at the AgHort Lecture Room Complex, Massey University, Palmerston North.

Some interesting facts about New Zealand’s settled landscape include:

  • Over 150 terms have been recorded for sheep –a ‘double decker’ is a sheep that has missed at least one shearing
  • For a bee to produce a teaspoon of honey, she will have to visit 500 flowers and fill her ‘stomach’ 60 times
  • In Rangitīkei in 1881 a huge mass of insects from a cosmopolitan army worm Mythimna separata infestationbrought a train to a standstill with its wheels spinning on their crushed bodies
  • The Gore A&P show once offered a prize for the ploughman with the largest family
  • In 1943 chick sexing was considered so important that those carrying out the work were prevented from enlisting for military service

The Settled Landscape entry will be launched by former A Dog’s Show host John Gordon at the AgHort Lecture Room Complex, Massey University, Palmerston North, Monday 24 November at 3pm. It goes live to the public at the same time.

Manawatu local Allan Gillingham edited the theme entries. Allan was born on a dairy farm on the West Coast and has had a long career as a researcher with MAF and AgResearch. He has worked with the team at Te Ara, led by General Editor, Jock Phillips, to create this entry over two years.

“The creativity and inventiveness of New Zealand farming has been the overwhelming impression from working on The Settled Landscape” says Jock Phillips.

“From Bill Gallagher and Herbert Christie’s electric fences to the invention of the herringbone and rotary milling sheds to Godfrey Bowen’s shearing techniques to the swanndri, New Zealanders have made original contributions to farming life”.

“New Zealanders have always had an intimate relationship with the land”, says Allan Gillingham.

“Editing all 97 entries telling this story has been a challenge, and given me a new perspective on the great transformation that occurred, and the great difficulties that were overcome, in converting New Zealand from a forest covered land to a giant farm. The Settled Landscape Theme is a great resource for all New Zealanders”.

The entry is divided into eight sections: Animal Farming, Country Life, Introduced Plants and Animals, Changing the Landscape, Crops, Trees and Gardens, Claiming the Land and Farming Support Services. The entries were written by a combination of Te Ara in-house writers, farming journalists, staff of universities and Crown Research Institutes, people in commercial practice and government departments, as well as retired experts throughout the country.

Hundreds of resources on illustrate the many aspects of life on the land.

The over 250 video features include Ivan Bowen’s glorious battle at the inaugural ‘Golden Shears’ competition in 1961 in Masterton, the ‘waggle dance’ of bees, ‘country lads’ going to war in 1941 and a farmer explaining why he wraps his favourite sheep dogs in a Swanndri when they pass on. The Country Calendar spoof clip of a farmer playing a high-tensile wire fence is a particular highlight: ChangingTheLandscape/FarmFencing/1/ENZ-Resources/Standard/1/en.

Te Ara will ultimately be a complete encyclopedia of New Zealand available free on the web. ’The Settled Landscape’ is the sixth major theme to be launched. Other themes include ‘New Zealand Peoples’; ‘Earth, Sea and Sky’; ‘The Bush’ and ‘Māori New Zealanders’, A ‘Places’ theme so far covers 11 out of 22 regions in New Zealand

Te Ara, produced by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, is a world first – the first national encyclopedia to be produced for the web. It has already won a number of prizes and receives around 8,000 visitors each weekday.

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Updated on 23rd July 2015