Carrying on the Foster name

Published date13 July 2022
Publication titleWest Coast Farming Times, The
The Foster family was a large one, with ten children raised by Henry and Kathleen in the homestead at Matai just south of Ahaura, and while the homestead has gone, the Foster name remains strong as ever

Brother Jimmy Foster recalls Brent wasn't one for academia.

"He went straight out of school to the North Island, he didn't like school, full stop.

"He worked for a joker by the name of Malcolm Brown at Thames in the Coromandel, flattening tea-tree down towards Taupo.

"They lived in a little hut, there was no toilet or anything. He was the first to drive over the new road into the Coromandel - the road wasn't open yet, so they just took the tractors."

However, the Coast called young Brent home just before the 1968 Inangahua earthquake, working for a man by the name of Logan at Kamaka.

"Not very long though because then he got a contract for doing the roadside mowing and that's how he got into contracting," says Jimmy.

To carry out the contract, Brent bought his first International tractor, after learning the ropes on his father's 1938.

"The 1938 International is still in my backyard, but it was our father Henry's, and it was the first tractor Brent ever drove, and also the first that his son Jason drove, a Farmall A International," Jimmy says.

Mowing roadsides saw other jobs come along - haybaling, fencing, plowing, agricultural work that required know-how and machinery.

Brent was in partnership with Mike Doolan for a couple of years doing this work and during this partnership, he also bought his first bulldozer.

Jimmy continues "He got a contract with the bulldozer, that's when he got into forestry. He also did a lot of ploughing down Kowhitirangi with a 30 inch plough he pulled behind him on his D4 dozer".

As a business, R B Foster Contracting came into being in 1969 after Brent bought out an Ahaura contracting business. Life was rosy.

But his bachelor days were numbered.

It was 1971 at Stiff y Coleman's Hotel in Greymouth, The Commercial, where he first spied Runanga girl Barbara Beech and asked her if she could play piano.

"Well I couldn't, so he wanted nothing to do with me!" laughs Barbara.

"Six months later we met up again at the Ahaura Hall on New Year's Eve. It was March of 1972 when we got engaged, and we were married in November."

A family needs a home and there was one place in Ahaura on the corner of Clifton and Manuka Streets, sporting the added attraction of a large shed and grounds.

The house was empty and Brent had his eye on it.


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