Contracting Family stands the test of time


The Slattery family has had a long association with Matamata and a longer association with Rural Contracting.

Back in the mid 1950’s Paul and Ray Slattery started to bale conventional hay and cultivate paddocks. Paul’s wife Justine answered the phone, took the bookings, organized the workers, ran the farm, milked the cows and raised the five Slattery Children while the boys were off baling hay.

In the early days when times were tough it was common for farmers to work off their bill, driving the hay balers or hay bob for the Slattery Brothers, as it was known then.

A couple of workers from back in the day continued their association with the Slattery’s when Roger took over in the early 1980’s, and are still clients to this day.

Merv West remembers when Ray and Paul tendered for a Tractor from Waikeria Prison. One afternoon they got a trailer from the hire centre, after Ray called the prison and was told not to pick up the tractor that day.

The boys and their brother Pat, along with Merv headed off. When they arrived the prison guard was not a happy camper but Ray blamed Jim, their “phantom” brother for not passing on the message. The boys managed to get the front wheels onto the trailer but couldn’t get the rear wheels up. The prison officer was beside himself when they drove off, with the tractor only halfway on the trailer. Heading up through Kihikihi the boys spotted a farmer in a paddock with a Front end loader on the tractor, they wandered over to him and asked for help. When he saw the tractor hanging off the end of the trailer he commented that it was lucky the tractor had fallen off the trailer just there, little did he know that they had driven from Waikeria like that.

Merv worked for the Slattery Brothers in the early 1970’s and since 1968 has had the Slattery Family doing his Ag Contracting when he started share milking.

The Late Bruce Stanley recalled driving for the Slattery’s in the 1970’s, with his tractor and mower. He had come from a lovely flat farm and got an education on how to mow hills at Jack Elliot’s farm (now Alexander’s/Hobbiton) “Paul used to drive out to see me with the biggest smile on his face and call out “Dr Livingston I presume” and every time Paul sees Bruce Stanley to this day he says the same greeting. “It has been the most amiable relationship and great to work with both generations”.

And there are clients that have been working with the Slattery family for 50 years to produce hay and in later year’s silage. When talking to D.J. O’Sullivan recently he said “I have been in Matamata for 50 years, and any contracting done in that time was done by the Slattery’s.” He recalled price negotiations around his kitchen table with Ray and Paul and a crate or two of something tasty.

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