In 1945 Jimmy Brown lived with his mother Margaret Marjorie-Banks and father in Tanatana, Opotiki when his father bought 300-acre farm that belonged to Pile. This is now known as Riverlock and now consists of 539 hectares of farmland and 13.24 hectares of kiwi fruit. Jimmy decided at the age of 22 that he would like to farm the land as his father did; And was given a share in the property. At this time he was milking approximately 180 cows on a 30 cow step cowshed and had sheep to control the ragwort. In 1953 he married Hilda Gosling who he says we owe a great deal to as she helped to make it happen. Jimmy went on to buy neighbouring farms, 150 acres that belonged to Ray Young in 1953, 52 acres belonging to Barry Fisher in 1972. 50 acres that belonged to McCallion in 1977, 66 acres of Hank Leoffen’s in 1976 and 37 acres of Hennery McGregor in 1977 that was all floodable. In 1962 Jimmy’s Father passed away and Jimmy took over the farm.
The farm on Otara Rd was bought off Peter Innes-Smith in 1995 and then expanded with the purchase of Max Harvey’s (1995), Lockhead’s (1997) and Murray Brown’s (1997) and then Mike Connor’s (1998), this making Brooklyn Farms. In July 2018, Brooklyn farm was split into two farms, one farm keeping the original name Brooklyn and its sister farm known as Queens Dairy Farm.
In 1964 there was a huge flood in Opotiki, which Jimmy believes was the worst flood. Jimmy had been to the stocks and had bought 3000 pounds worth of ewes. In February 1964 every one of the ewes got swept out to sea and then came the bill to pay for them. At this time Jimmy had just tried his hand in horse racing with a horse called Ringlock. It was Ringlock’s first year at steeple chasing and he won 5000 pounds that year which gave Jimmy enough money to pay for the sheep. He saved the day that day. It took 12 months to clean the back of the farm up, as the flood covered half of the farm. The water on it was like waves right to the Woodland hills.
Jimmy and his sons have continued to expand the business, which now has 3 dairy farms, Riverlock which holds 1400 cows, Queens holding 800 cows, Brooklyn holding 750 cows, and Haupapa which is a drystock farm. The business has also expanded in relation to kiwifruit. It started with the Riverlock home block and has grown into 11 orchards and securing external orchards in Opotiki, Te Kaha, Te Puke and Gisborne.
Jimmy has since retired but still has a strong interest in the business. He is a strong believer in believing in yourself, people said he would never make it, but he is still running or as he says, it’s more of a walk now. “Never stop trying, you don’t know what you can achieve if you just keep trying.”