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Use of temporal signatures to classify the complex land use patterns in Canterbury New Zealand is investigated. Two datasets of detailed field histories spanning 5-7 years are used to develop a rule set for classifying from satellite imagery (SPOT/Landsat). While many individual crops proved inseparable, a broader set of land use classes such as `winter forage' or `summer arable crop' were defined that could be separated with accuracies between 71% and 96% (averaging 82% over 8 classifications). These broader land use classes will be used in a second stage of the project to guide and constrain classifications incorporating spectral information from the crop's peak NDVI phase.