Hardworking bullock teams were not just a feature of coastal Tararua for Hawke's Bay's Charlie Anderton - they are a proud part of his family history as his father, Arthur, worked with the teams in the early 1900s.

Arthur Anderton was born in 1883 and died in 1955, aged 72, but his son, Charlie, can remember some of those very early days of the bullock teams.

Charlie, 96, who now lives at Sommerset in Greenmeadows, was born in 1920 at Kereru where his father's job was to load the bullock wagons and take the logs to the mill.

"The bullock teams were an important part of my father's life," he said. "Fortunately I've inherited some very precious family photos from those early days in the 1900s and they tell the story of a time not many can remember now.


"Prior to 1912 when my father was single, he was taking timber down to what was then the Pukehou Railway Station, using the bullocks. That was not long after he left school. He then went to Kereru Mill and had two or four bullocks, using them to drag the logs around the stumps of felled trees to the skids. A wire rope hauler would then drag the logs to the mill.

"My one strong memory was the sound of the hooter going for lunch. It frightened the life out of me."

An unusual occurrence was the shoeing of the hooves of the white bullocks in the teams and Charlie believes a family photo of his father shoeing the bullocks is rare.

"The hooves of white bullocks were softer than those of the black bullocks and if they were hauling loads on the road they were shoed."

Bullocks were also part of Charlie's grandparents early farming days on the original Te Aute Station.

"In the early days at the station my grandfather worked with bullocks which would get bogged and had to be dragged out by the rest of the team. Despite this, bullocks were outstanding working in wet, boggy conditions but as the land was drained and it became drier, it was a more appropriate environment for horses.

"Although bullocks were the original workhorses, they were too slow compared to horse teams."

After leaving Kereru Mill Arthur Anderton purchased land at Otane, where he farmed. Charlie then took over the farm after the war and purchased more land near Waipawa. In 1960 he sold both blocks and purchased Carlyon Station on Farm Rd,10 minutes east of Waipukurau.

In 1980 Charlie sold Carlyon and bought Mangatarata Station, east of Waipukurau, in partnership with his son-in-law, Don Macdonald. Eventually, daughter Judy and son Donald bought Charlie out and he and his wife, Isa, retired to Waipukurau. The couple now live at Sommerset in Greenmeadows and in June celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary.