3 May 2019

Motorcycle madness

From Country Life, 9:36 pm on 3 May 2019

Former gliding instructor Phil Pearce finds riding his motorbike more relaxing than driving a car and the 89-year-old can't see himself stopping any time soon.

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Photo: RNZ/Susan Murray

Every fortnight or so, Phil takes his classic Kawasaki 650W for a 90-minute ride from Palmerston North to his family land in Rangitikei.

The aim – to check on possum bait stations and see how his daughter's extensive native replanting project is ticking over.

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Photo: RNZ/Susan Murray

Phil's been baiting possum traps in this lowland stand of virgin podocarp beech forest for twenty-plus years.

Some of the other native trees are huge, he says, and believed to be over a thousand years old – "quite unusual for flat farming land."

Back in 1910, Phil's grandfather built a house in a natural clearing, luckily leaving a ring of bush around the clearing.

Phil's daughter Sally Pearce remembers her father talking about his dog seeing a possum for the first time on the property when he was about ten years old (during World War II).

At the time, no-one thought to shoot it. 

"We had no idea what was coming, eh, I guess," Sally says.

"He [the dog] didn't know what to do with it," laughs Phil. "Never seen one before."

Now thanks to conscientious trapping work, possums are rarely seen on this special block of land.