PHO2011-1998.jpg Arthur Harrison and his hedgecutter (1953). Margaret Harrison. Collection of Puke Ariki (PHO2011-1998).

Taming a serious boxthorn hedge took a seriously grunty machine. Fast growing with vicious spikes, boxthorn (Lycium ferocissimum), was first introduced into Taranaki in 1880 and was quickly claimed to be “the hedge-plant of the future.” It thrived in the salt laden Taranaki winds, and established valuable thorny barriers and shelter across the district. Soon afterwards the spiked rural asset started causing problems, growing so massive that farmers struggled to control it. Hacking it back with slashers, in an effort to stop valuable pasture being swallowed, the cockies found themselves on a hiding to nothing, slogging away for months each year with little reward. The hedges grew virtually unchecked with many sprouting about six metres high and at least 15 metres wide. 

So the heavy hedgecutting industry was born. Arthur Harrison is pictured here with his impressive looking machine at Skeet Road, Kāpuni, in 1952.  The 4.6 metre blade is mounted on an American World War Two international half-track which had 1000 kilometres on the clock when Harrison bought it. The pram behind it appears to be an example of black humour, rather than an accident waiting to happen. 

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