Working the land in the 1930s

Going hard – a photo story of hard working men on hard working tractors (now vintage!) clearing Waikato farmland in the 1930s


1930s tractor, puketaha


Mike Taylor of Puketaha shares these great pics from 1938. 

Hard at work – although it’s possibly smoko time for James Thomas Parsell, right, and his helpful neighbour. The tractors, now vintage, look ready for action.

“I wish I could say the whereabouts in Puketaha these photos were taken but I would only be guessing.  And just who the neighbour is, remains a mystery,” says Mike.

Mike tried to find out more on James Parsell, but he remains elusive.

“I did find a reference to a J T Parsell Ltd (1960s) in the Archway website which suggested it was something to do with agricultural contracting – but I can’t be certain.

“The Parsell name seems to have links to the Waihou area which probably explains why these pics ended up in the Te Aroha Museum.”


Old tractors

Written on the back of the photographs – ‘The neighbour has just pulled Dad’s (Parsell’s) tractor out of the hole on the right. Puketaha, 1938’

And on the last two in the series – ‘crushing high ti-tree at Puketaha, 1938’


1930s tractor


1930s tractor


  • Thanks Mike!  We love grainy, gorgeous photos of locals out and about in days gone by – if you have a stash of sepia gems gathering dust, and send them to  Annette Taylor. All photos courtesy of Janice Parsell/Nightingale


  • Click here for a photo story of the Waikato Vintage Tractor & Machinery Club’s gathering in Morrinsville back in 2016.  Some great pics of vintage tractors to admire!


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2 thoughts on “Working the land in the 1930s

  • May 17, 2020 at 1:58 pm


    Just advise that I’ve shared info with Mike TAYLOR, and we will undertake further research. It appears that a J T PARSELL was cremated at Hamilton, in November 1989. The undertaker has been approached. Historic NZ B D & M records [over 100 yrs; and for marrages 80 yrs, ago] appear to be incomplete. He could have been one of 10 press mentioned siblings, as having been born in to a Matamata PARSELL family.


  • May 18, 2020 at 11:51 am

    Good Morning.

    PLEASE hold off on my notes of yesterday.

    Was able to talk to Janice Nightingale today, and James Thomas PARSELL is indeed her father and she could answer many of Mike’s questions.

    I will supply a copy of information I have about James’ sister ? being enrolled in the Piako Road School in 1935.

    Janice believes she has the name of the farm her father worked on crushing manuka so will update when she has got back to me.

    Alan SHARP.


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