Paul David Savage describes himself as "a speechwriter, author and heavy diesel machinery operator from Whanganui, New Zealand".

The heavy machine operator credentials are relatively new.

When Savage packed in his public relations job and headed off to the American Midwest to join a harvesting crew in 2016, he had completed fewer than 20 machine hours on tractors and had no idea just what he was in for.

His new book, To South Dakota and Back: The Story of The Great North American Harvest, chronicles his journey into the unknown and he believes it offers "something for everyone".


"Whether you're into your farming, interested in the United States and Canada, after some travel writing or you want a laugh, you'll find something to smile about," he says.

Arriving in Litchfield, Minnesota Savage was employed to run a tractor and grain cart for a custom harvesting crew.

Throughout the summer and autumn harvests, Savage kept a daily journal on his iPad and later used the material to write his book.

Looking back on his leap of faith, Savage says "it absolutely was the trip of a lifetime".

"We hit the road in Minnesota, drove all the way down to Texas, made our way back up through the heart of the Midwest, headed over the border to Canada, and made it back to South Dakota again.

"The Midwest might not be the first place that springs to mind when the United States is mentioned. But it's somewhere I will always be a part of, thanks to our journey."

Paul David Savage
Paul David Savage

As the crew, made up of around 50 per cent Americans and the rest international recruits, harvested wheat, canola, soybeans and corn, Savage continued to document his experiences with words and photos.

"We ran some great machinery, saw incredible sights and met a fascinating cross-section of rural Americans and Canadians.

"It was an experience I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life. I'm excited to be able to share it with others."

The Midwest chronicle is Savage's second book - in mid-2018, he released The First XV: A Decade-and-a-Half of Fonterra Co-operative Group, the first book to chronicle New Zealand dairy export giant Fonterra's first 15 years in business.

The 28-year-old attended St Johns Hill, Rutherford and Whanganui Collegiate schools before studying journalism and communications at AUT University in Auckland.

Savage, now living in Western Australia, has continued farming and operating heavy diesel equipment in the mining and earthmoving industries.

To South Dakota and Back: The Story of The Great North American Harvest is available as an ebook at .