By Duncan Pipe
Mr G A Marchant was born in London in 1849 and was educated at Kings College School, London. In 1872 he emigrated to Australia, before coming on to New Zealand, settling first at Kakaramea.
He was elected to the Patea Roads Board, which was responsible for the construction of the roads in the district and the railway north of Patea.
Moving to Cardiff in 1881, he converted his holding of 300 acres from bush into fertile pastureland and became one of the progressive dairymen who laid the foundation of Taranaki’s principal industry.
From 1887 to 1890 he represented the Taranaki Electorate in Parliament.
He was one of the first directors of the Cardiff Dairy Company, established in 1891, and remained on the board until 1920.
He resigned after his four sons returned home from active service in the Middle East during WWI and they took over the management of his property.
He became more involved in local-body politics. As well as the Patea West Road Board, he was the first chairman of the Hawera County Council and chairman of the Hawera Hospital Board, as well as serving on the New Plymouth Harbour Board, the Taranaki Land Board and the Egmont National Park Board.
He died in 1943 at the age of 94.
GA Marchant had established the Coldstream herd of pedigree Holstein Friesians in 1913, with himself listed as a member of the breed in volume II of the Herd Book.
In the male section, “Dominion Cozak”, born 1911, bred by the New Zealand Government is registered No. 321.
In the female section, “Manor Belle”, born 1911, bred by Chas Hopping, Rongotea is registered No.694.
In the Appendix section, 14 females were registered using the Coldstream prefix, some of which had Longbeach blood in them.
During the early years, the sires used were bred by prominent breeders of the time such as J Donald Westmere stud, Whanganui, and C A Hopping Ashlyn stud, Rongotea.
The Taranaki Branch of the NZ Friesian Association was founded in 1918 and G A Marchant was its first President.
He was on the Holstein Friesian Association District Committee for Taranaki from 1915 and was elected to the Holstein Friesian Association Council in 1919. He became an official judge, along with his son H J Marchant, in 1920.
From early Year Books published by NZ Friesian Association, some outstanding production figures were recorded by Coldstream cows:
- 1921 National mature cow leader: G A Marchant & Sons with Pontiac Princess, 20,843 lbs milk (9,379L) 831 lbs fat (377kg)
- 1924 National Junior two-year-old leader: G A Marchant & Sons with Coldstream Pontiac Piebe, 16,456 lbs milk (7,405L) 636 lbs fat (289kg)
In 1921 the membership became listed as G A Marchant and Sons. He was replaced on the Holstein Friesian Association Council by H J Marchant in 1922. In 1923 two of his four sons were on the list of Official Judges – H J & C A.
Showing was regularly carried out throughout the Taranaki shows successfully, with both males and females.
By 1924 Coldstream was registering 32 females in the Herd Book.
H J became Vice-President of NZFA in 1926 and President in 1928 and remained on Council until 1945. His brother C A (Claude Snr) was chairman of the aforementioned Cardiff Dairy Factory for over 40 years, and was a Government appointee to the NZ Dairy Board.
From 1937 the registrations were entered as G A Marchant & Sons (No 1 Herd) (No 2 Herd) and (No 3 Herd). These were almost solely by homebred bulls, but rich in the leading bloodlines of the day. By this time two brothers ceased farming pedigrees and changed to crossbreds.
From 1943 the Coldstream registrations were still under G A Marchant & Sons but were farmed by C A Marchant (brother of H J) who had bought the property now owned by Mark Rowland on Pembroke Road, Stratford.
Around this time a bull bred in the Massey University herd, Massey Renown Tiger, was introduced. Other bulls were purchased from the Tokaora stud of the Johnson Family, Hawera.
As well as the homebred bulls out of their best cows, AI from the early Livestock Improvement bulls purchased from different prominent Friesian studs throughout New Zealand were used, from 1960: Pukeroro Ireland Notary, Rose Park Perfection, Ruaview Ideal, Kiteroa Mutual Mike, Greylands Galena Victor, Turepo Sovereign and Terling Brabazon. These bulls appear in the pedigrees of Coldstream through the 1960s.
One very notable cow born in 1960 was Coldstream Brabyn Jean EX, the top veteran cow for New Zealand from 1972-73 with 1,027 lbs fat (466kg). Numerous other VHC cows were bred from these early AI sires.
C A Marchant’s two sons, Philip and F E Claude, picked up the baton in the 1960s. Philip carried on with the Coldstream prefix back on the farm on Cardiff Road. The 1971 Herd Book records the registrations of 29 females and seven males born the previous year – mostly sired by Ngaio Midigay Herald, a bull bred by Jim Montgomerie, Hamilton. This bull was sired by imported semen from Canada from Glenafton Midigay, and out of prominent show cow Ngaio Regal Helen VHC. Philip became a Senior Judge in 1975.
In the same year Philip and wife Maree bred and sold a bull to LIC , Coldstream Majestic Max. He went on to join the Premier Sires team and sired over 11,000 tested daughters.
Meanwhile, Philip’s brother F E Claude took on the Ashford prefix at Pembroke Road to avoid confusion between the two herds. In the 1971 Herd Book he registered 58 females and five males, mainly by a homebred bull, Coldstream Regal Reign – a Turepo Sovereign son, and maternal brother to the aforementioned Coldstream Brabyn Jean.
Regal Reign was proven with a plus 40 rating, and his semen was collected and was available from NZ Sire Services. When the importation of semen from Canada became available in the 1970s, a limited amount was used from such bulls as Linmack, Griffland, Agro Acres Revenue and Bond Haven Ace.
From 1972-1981, Coldstream and Ashford had annual sales in the spring, selling around 70 head of cows, heifers and bulls.
On the May 19, 1982, Philip had a dispersal sale of the Coldstream herd; 47 cows and 25 in-calf heifers sold at an average of $683, with a top price of $3,000. Then, in April 1983, the remaining heifers carrying the Coldstream prefix were sold at auction to end 70 years of the Marchant family breeding Friesians.
Philip took up a role in the AI industry, firstly with Sire Services and then with Ambreed. Now at the age of 85, he enjoys retirement in New Plymouth.