Kiwi ‘Spud King’ Allan Pye dies aged 83

Kiwi ‘Spud King’ Allan Pye dies aged 83

The agricultural world mourns the loss of Allan Pye, affectionately dubbed the "Spud King," who passed away at the age of 83. 

Pye, renowned for his remarkable journey from a humble beginning to creating a potato farming empire, passed away in Burwood Hospital, Christchurch on Saturday.

Born in the pottery town of Temuka, South Canterbury, in 1941, Pye's story is one of sheer determination and relentless pursuit of success. Leaving school at the tender age of 14, he embarked on his entrepreneurial journey by leasing two acres of land to grow potatoes. Little did the world know that this small step would pave the way for a billion-dollar family business.

Pye's empire, which now encompasses vast swathes of farmland totalling almost 3000 hectares, was not built overnight. It was a testament to his unwavering dedication and passion for agriculture. Alongside potatoes, Pye cultivated a variety of crops, including carrots, on his South Canterbury farm. Additionally, he owned nine dairy farms, boasting a herd of 9000 cows, showcasing his diverse agricultural interests.

Despite accumulating immense wealth, Pye remained grounded, shunning the extravagant trappings of success favoured by many of his peers. Instead of indulging in flashy cars, lavish mansions, and exotic vacations, he found solace and fulfilment in the simplicity of farm life.

In a rare interview, Pye shared his profound love for the land, expressing, "I love sitting on a header. There’s nothing more satisfying than sitting on a header and harvesting 10 to 12 tonnes per hectare crop of wheat. It’s better than anything. Sex is good but only lasts for a short time. Driving a header, it goes on all day and all night."

His words reflect not only his deep-rooted passion for farming but also his unyielding work ethic, which propelled him to the zenith of success. Pye's journey serves as an inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs, demonstrating that with perseverance and dedication, the sky is truly the limit.

Despite his monumental achievements, Pye remained modest, attributing his success to his relentless pursuit of financial prosperity. "It seems a bit stupid really, there should be something else in life than just money but that was important to me," he remarked.

In reminiscing about his favourite vegetable, Pye's eyes would light up with enthusiasm. "I like spuds mashed, boiled, roasted... anyway at all," he declared. 

"Nothing better than spuds."

As the farming community prepares to bid farewell to one of its most illustrious figures, Pye's indelible imprint on the agricultural landscape will endure for generations to come. 

A service will be held on the farm at 276 Rise Road, Winchester, on Friday, March 22, at 2.00 pm and will serve as a poignant tribute to the remarkable life and legacy of Allan Pye, the "Spud King."

Allan Pye's journey exemplifies the transformative power of hard work, determination, and a love for the land. In celebrating his life, we honour not only his extraordinary achievements but also the enduring spirit of entrepreneurship that continues to shape our agricultural landscape.