Tractors on display at event

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More than 400 tractors wowed the crowds at the inaugural Wheels at Wanaka event over the Easter weekend.

Wanaka property developer and tractor enthusiast Alan Dippie contributed about half of the tractors from his collection, and others travelled from across the country to be part of the event.

Mechanisation of farms was one of the changes experienced by soldiers returning from World War 1, Mr Dippie said.

Increased production and a shortage of manpower were some of the challenges for post-World War 1 farmers, but tractors were not universally liked when they first came on the scene.

“It took a long time for them to catch on because farmers didn’t trust them, they only trusted their horses,” Mr Dippie said.

The first tractors were “very primitive” and manufacturers explored different designs to see what would catch on with farmers.

“They weren’t quite sure what the configuration was going to be – whether it was tracks or one wheel out the back.”

One of the first tractors was a Moline Plow.

Dating from 1919, the tractor had a front wheel drive design that mimicked the configuration of horse-drawn ploughs.

A farmer rode behind the tractor “like a jockey”.

“You did your ploughing out the back like you were still hanging out the back of a horse.”

The Moline Plow was one of several tractors provided by the West Otago Vintage Machinery Club.

It was one of the earliest tractors to be imported to New Zealand.

Owners of the Moline would be “innovative, forward thinking” farmers who were exploring mechanisation of farms.

“They would be one of the first one or two hundred people to buy a tractor in the country.”

Marketing manager Annabel Roy said more than 15,000 people attended the event – designed to run on alternate years with the Warbirds at Wanaka air show – over two days.

The inaugural event was “a huge success” and the next event was already confirmed for April 3 and 4 in 2021.