From the early to mid 1940s parts of the NZ countryside were acquisitioned by the Department of Agriculture and used for the purpose of increasing large scale vegetable production. The department implemented its Services Vegetable Production Scheme in 1942. These farms were established to address the need to feed US troops stationed here during WW2. The gardens became known as 'State Farms' or 'Government Gardens'. Within six months the NZ government had established 7 state farms totalling 663 acres; the total later grew to 27 farms covering 5,200 acres. A significant number of these were based in the South Auckland region from Mangere to Pukekohe and Waiuku. By the end of 1945 all of state farms had closed down.
|Ref: AWNS-19431222-15-1, American and NZ soldiers at the wedding and harvesting at Patumahoe, 1943, Sir George Grey Special Collections|
During the WW2 many girls and women worked on farms as many of the men were away fighting.
|Ref: AWNS-19411105-34-19, NZ's land army girls at work, 1941, Sir George Grey Special Collections|
|Reference: Footprints 04396, Land girls, Mangere, c. 1942, photograph reproduced by courtesy of Mangere Historical Society, South Auckland Research Centre|
In late1944 a cannery, dehydration and quick-freezing plant was established at Pukekohe as part of the state farm operations. The aim was to supply vegetables ready for transportation to the troops in the Pacific. The plant continued to operate as a commercial food processing enterprise after the war until 1975.
|Ref: Footprints 04877, office staff, Pukekohe, 1948, photograph reproduced by courtesy of Pukekohe Library, South Auckland Research Centre|
|Ref: Footprints 03744, American servicemen, Otahuhu, c. 1943, photograph reproduced by courtesy of Otahuhu Historical Society, 1.2.1 (donated by B. Whitmore), South Auckland Research Centre|
|Ref: Footprints 02152, aerial view of Camp Euart, Mangere, 1944, photograph reproduced by courtesy of Papatoetoe Historical Society, South Auckland Research Centre|
The Waiuku News on 9 October 1945 (p.6) had the following story entitle "Papamahoe Closing Down: Reinstating Properties".
"The war having ended, and the need for large supplies of vegetables for the United States Forces in the Pacific having largely disappeared, a number of State vegetable projects are closing down, Patumahoe being one of them. Already a large number of manpowered girls have been “demobilised,” but a team is being retained to harvest crops which are making splendid growth. When these are harvested it is understood the project will finish. Properties taken for the purpose are being reinstated preparatory to turning them back to their owners. When the scheme was at its peak about 800 acres atPatumahoe were under cultivation. Recently the garden employees had a farewell dance at which there was a large attendance and an enjoyable time was spent".
Author: Sharon Smith, South Auckland Research Centre