The invitation was to celebrate the contribution Sid Hurst had made to the Lower Waitaki Irrigation Company and the evening was a tribute to a man who is still doing more at 91 than many people half his age.
He learned about the importance of water early because North Otago was drought prone and farms were dependent on rain to supply water for stock and houses.
Sid’s family was one of the first in the district to install a flush loo in their home. It would have been an improvement on a longdrop but water shortages meant it could be flushed just once a day.
Sid was one of the people behind the Windsor Rural Water Scheme, New Zealand’s first, and one of the first to use irrigation in North Otago. He was also the driving force behind the development of irrigation on the Lower Waitaki.
Last night’s celebration was at Riverstone Kitchen which wouldn’t be there, offering superbly cooked fresh food, had irrigation not transformed the arid Waitaki Valley bringing more people, making more money and improving the environment.
Sid had been an innovator in farming and business, succeeding in both and helping other people and the wider community. His service was recognised when he was conferred with an honorary Doctorate of Science from Lincoln University and awarded an OBE.
In his typically modest way, Sid concluded his remarks last night by saying, “In honouring me you have honoured yourselves because we have all been part of this.”
He had a point but he was the leader and continues to be an inspiration.