Peter’s fond farewell

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The life of Peter Butterick was celebrated during a remembrance service at the Mid Canterbury Vintage Machinery Club.

Peter Butterick enjoyed a yarn.

He was a hard case, with a generous spirit and was highly thought of among his family and friends.

The life of the Wakanui farmer, who died this month aged 70, was celebrated last week by hundreds of people gathered at a remembrance service at the Mid Canterbury Vintage Machinery Club, where he was a life member.

People travelled from around New Zealand and Australia to attend and speakers included friends and family such as Fergus Butterick, Yvonne Loader, Peter McCombs, David Smith and Vintage Machinery Club president John Stewart.

It was officiated by Bernard Egan and long time friend Trevor Begg, and livestreamed for others unable to attend.

The Butterick Family’s Burrell traction engine – joined by five others from around the district – and Peter’s vast collection of tractors, trucks and a motorcycle were all on display on the grounds; a tribute to Peter’s extensive interests.

Peter took the Burrell to the Great Dorset Steam Fair in the UK on many occasions.

The Butterick Family’s Burrell traction engine.

The Butterick family’s 150 year farming heritage at Wakanui played an important role in his life.

Peter was thrown into the deep end at aged 19 when his father, Neal suffered a fatal heart attack aged 50.

Peter stayed on with his mother, the late-May, learned the farming ropes and became a very successful farmer.

The 404 hectare (1000 acres) farm was part of a wider family farm dating back to the 1870s.

The farm would later extend to 688 hectares, and still has Shorthorn cattle genetics dating back 150 years.

Mid Canterbury Vintage Machinery Club president John Stewart speaking at the remembrance service.

Mr Stewart said Peter’s wealth of knowledge on machinery, trucks, tractors and traction engines was vast and would be missed by all club members.

“If it made smoke, burnt diesel or was a V8 Peter was never far away, but more than anything Peter enjoyed a yarn,” he said.

“Peter was made a life member to recognise his contribution and generosity given over the years. I will miss Peter at the club meetings with his dry wit, humour and clever comments that would have us all laughing with him.”

He said when members were building the new clubroom it was suggested being just over the road from the cemetery it might get used for funerals, and the person could have their last ride on a trailer towed by the tractor of their choice.

“Little did we know that Peter would be the first club member to make use of the venue for his remembrance service,” Mr Stewart said.

“He chose to use a Nuffield tractor with a John Deere trailer which is very fitting for Peter.”

Some of Peter Butterick’s extensive collection of vehicles were on display.

Peter had an extensive interest in vehicles and had his own impressive collection, including traction engine, tractors, trucks and a motorcycle.

He joined the Mid Canterbury Vintage Machinery Club in 1986.

He held many positions including as committee member at various times helping to organise events, and was president in 2003 and 2004.

Mr Stewart said Peter’s aim was to get the meeting over with as quickly as possible to get on to the all important yarning and cup a tea afterwards.

“I think the record was 15 minutes for a meeting.”

It drew a laugh from those present.

Peter’s love of ploughing made him a good choice for the ploughing committee and up until his death he remained the secretary, he said.

“With Peter holding this position we were always assured of a paddock in the Wakanui district for our annual ploughing match, incorporating the Mobil qualifying event in the later years.

“The John Deere loader tractor, or as Pete called it the poofy tractor, was always available for use on the day.”

Mr Stewart said there were very few tractor treks run by the club that Peter missed. He would use either a Nuffield or a V8 Massey Ferguson.

“There weren’t many vintage rallies, displays, parades or steam events that Peter did not attend whether it be on one of his tractors, classic trucks or traction engines.”

Peter could also be called upon to help with display needs during the Ashburton A & P show where the club always had a large display.

“If we needed a certain model of tractor Peter could always to called upon to fill a gap with one of his many.

“Peter always went both days to the show, and each day after a look around the trade sites, would make his way to the club display and be seen sitting on the front wheel of a tractor or leaning over the bonnet having a yarn.”

He was also always keen to drive his tractor with other club members to display at the Mayfield A & P show.

Peter offered the use of his paddocks for the club’s successful Wheat and Wheels rallies in 2013 and 2016, and planned his farming operation around these events which saw thousands of people coming to his farm for the two day event.

“Peter was always on the rally committee to help with the organising, but come the days of the event he was no bloody use at all as he was too busy yarning to people,” Mr Stewart said.

“It was Peter’s idea that the proceeds be given to Ronald McDonald House with a total of $45,000 given from both events.”

Peter often thought the rally should run for a week as two days was not enough time to see everything, Mr Stewart said.

Peter died on May 6, 2022 at Rosebank Lifecare, Ashburton after a short battle with cancer.

He is survived by his sisters Sue, Fiona and Hilary, nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephew.