Sam and Christine Ludbrook will be at the Bay of Islands Pastoral and Industrial Show at Waimate North this weekend, as they have been every year for decades. And they won't be the only Ludbrooks there by any means.

The show was first staged, as an agricultural demonstration, at the Waimate North mission in 1842. It's still going strong 175 years later, making it the oldest show of its kind in the country.

And Ludbrooks have been there from the start.

Sam's grandfather was there in the early days, exhibiting stock, and his brother was on the committee. And while no one can be absolutely sure, it is almost certain that his great-grandfather, Samuel Blomfield Ludbrook, was there in 1842.

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Sixteen-year-old Samuel arrived at Waimate North the year before, with his widowed mother, Mary Anne Ludbrook, who immigrated to serve as companion to her sister, George Clarke's wife Martha, at the mission.

"It's hard to imagine that they would not have been there," Christine said. "Where else was there to go in those days?"

That would make her husband Sam a fourth-generation show supporter, and their son Roger a fifth.

Modern-day Sam's support goes far beyond turning up every year, although his equestrian career was short-lived. He and his horse competed at the show in 1945, when he was 5 years old, and went home at the end of the day with a yellow third-place ribbon.

"To this day I don't know if the ribbon was awarded to the horse or rider," he said, confessing he could no longer put his hand on it. "The moths might have got it."

Unlike his mother and sisters he did not persist in the horse ring, but he did run the dog trials for some 40 years.

"I was one of those who started dog trials at shows up here," he said, but admitted that he wasn't a very good "meetings person", so might not have featured prominently in the committee meeting minutes.

The show was in very good heart in 2017, he added, especially considering how many such events were struggling. The expansion over the last decade or so had been "marvellous".

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Christine had something to do with that. She was a leading light in the addition of Savouring the Source to the show programme in 2001, the celebration of the best of local food and wine quickly becoming enormously popular, not least perhaps thanks to the family atmosphere.

"In all those years I have never seen anyone drunk, which is as it should be," she said, adding that the success of the food and wine festival had prompted a huge increase in trade exhibits.

"It changed the food at the show too. People had a really good time, and they still do."
Christine "bailed" from her role at the show a few years ago, but she and Sam were both life members, and remained strong supporters.

Sam's second cousin Michael Ludbrook has made his contribution to the family connection too, including his role as president when the event celebrated its 150th year in 1992.

This year's event, which starts on Friday and concludes on Saturday, will officially be the 175th (although there might have been one or two brief pauses during the world wars), and will be special, in recognition of the milestone.

The programme will include Royal Agricultural Society of New Zealand equestrian and dairy events, and the Ayrshire New Zealand Northland championships.