Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 12, October 1969

Born 17th May, 1889, Vindum, DENMARK. Died 24th May, 1968. WAIHI, N.Z.

By Freda Clark.

Mr. Bjerring was 23 years old when he came to New Zealand in 1912. He had read so much about New Zealand that he decided to satisfy his curiosity by coming out to work here. His family were farmers in Denmark. Mr. Bjerring went to Waitoa, as he had friends there. First he worked in a grocery shop, then on farms, and finally he bought 34 acres of his own.

When he took up the land in Waihi it was covered in scrub and giant size Ti tree - very little was in bush. It was cleared and ploughed, then instead of harrowing it as would be done today, he drove a mob of 300 cattle backwards and forwards over it to consolidate the ground. He experienced hard times, but found also a great deal of fun and enjoyment in life.

Later Mr. Neil and Mr. Christen Christensen came out from Denmark and helped Mr. Bjerring break in the land. Other Danes followed, including Mr. Bjerring's brother Karl, with his nine children, also the Larsens and the Frendrups. All had received Mr. Bjerring's address from his family in Denmark. Eventually more and more land was acquired and a Danish settlement developed in what is now known as GOLDEN VALLEY. Maoris from Mataroa Bay were employed as casual labour. In those days ragwort and thistles were pulled out by hand and burnt.

During the depression years Mr. Bjerring ran the first Relief Camp in New Zealand, employing 140 men. They made the road through from Waihi to Golden Valley. This work was done with shovels, and they made a road that would take a four horse waggon. Later the road was put through to Whangamata.

In 1931 Mr. Bjerring formed the Ohinemuri Stock Company, together with Messrs E. A. Wilson, J. B. Beeche and Roy Cullen to buy stock to put on the land. About this time Mr. Bjerring worked for Messrs. Wright Stephenson Ltd., and built up their business, and eventually sold them the land in Rosemont Road where they are today.

After leaving Wright Stephenson Ltd., Mr. Bjerring was employed by Messrs. Hellaby Ltd., as their Stock Buyer, and became their biggest supplier of beef cattle in New Zealand. He was known all over the North Island as the greatest judge and buyer of cattle at stock sales throughout the Island. The breeds he favoured most wore polled Angus and Hereford.

In later years Mr. Bjerring went in for sheep as well as beef cattle and developed his own pedigree strain, crossing Romney and Cheviot, the good features of both proving very successful.

To combat the grass grub Mr. Bjerring believed that starlings - the natural enemies of the grass grubs - should be encouraged, and that the way to do this was to provide suitable nesting places for them. This he did by making special concrete strainers incorporating nesting boxes on the tops. He had brought with him from Denmark the idea of beating the grass grub by the use of starlings, from the starling farms in that country.

After 40 years of farming in Waihi Mr. and Mrs. Bjerring - he married Mrs. Lil Hill (nee Robinson) in 1951 - had a trip to Denmark. In 1952 when Mr. Bjerring was in England he inspected the first consignment of chilled beef sent from New Zealand. Previously only refrigerated mutton had been exported to England.

In his earlier farming days Mr. Bjerring did most of the veterinary work in the district. He diagnosed the complaint and Mr. E.A. Clark, chemist, made up the cures and drenches.

Mr. Bjerring saw many changes in breaking in land. When he was first farming here a team of bullocks did the work, then came a team of horses, later a tractor, and finally an aeroplane to do aerial topdressing. Mr. Bjerring had the first Air Strip, and was the first farmer in the Thames Valley - Bay of Plenty area to use aerial topdressing.

Mr. Bjerring enjoyed several visits to Denmark to see his relatives. He assisted a number of Danes to emigrate to New Zealand.

Apart from farming Mr. Bjerring's other interests were mainly in the Rotary Club, and he was a very generous supporter of the Wilson Crippled Children's Home in Auckland and the Intellectually Handicapped Children in Hamilton, Tauranga and Auckland. He gave many, many thousands of dollars to these worthy causes. The Waihi Hospital also benefitted from Mr. Bjerring's generous donations.

Mr. Bjerring was a self made man - he shunned publicity. He will long be remembered for his kindly nature, unassuming manner, his keen sense of humour and his quiet way of helping so many.