Double success for Malvern

by Kent Caddick

There was plenty to admire about the performances of Selwyn’s Megan Hands and the Darfield High School teams in their respective categories at the Tasman regional finals of the New Zealand Young Farmer of the Year competition.

The individual winner of the regional event, which was held in Hokitika on the West Coast, would secure for themselves a spot in grand final of the FMG Young Farmer Competition in July.

Ms Hands, a Malvern Community Board member from Darfield, took home the Massey University Agri-Growth Challenge and the AGMARDT Agri-Business Challenge titles, as well as the Tasman Regional Award for the highest placed female.

While she didn’t achieve her goal of becoming only the fourth woman to have made a grand final in the 49 years of the competition, the 27-year-old farm environment consultant proved too much for the only other female competitor in the eight-strong finals field, Ellesh Norrie from the West Coast. 

“Competing in a regional final was a big step up from competing at the district level, but I did set myself some goals and achieved them,” Ms Hands said. 

“Overall I was pleased with the way things went and to come home with the three titles was pretty awesome.” 

She said she struggled in the more physical challenges of the regional final.

“The exam and interview sections of the competition went well for me but other parts of the competition were extremely physical and I need to work on my fitness levels.”

She said the competition is extremely addictive and is looking forward to giving it another crack next year.

Meanwhile, Darfield High School dominated the TeenAg field, taking out first and third, with Christchurch Boys’ High School separating the two Darfield teams.

The TeenAg regional finals involved competing in teams of two in eight different modules based on all aspects of the agriculture industry, which could include: animal anatomy, fencing, meat cut ID, gun safety, equine, agronomy, feed budgeting and chainsaw assembly.

The winning Darfield High School team of Brooke McKay and Tom Welch will now head to the Manawatu in July for the TeenAg grand final, which will be held in conjunction with FMG Young Farmer of the Year grand final. They will be joining Tasman Regional Final FMG Young Farmer of the Year winner, West Coast dairy farmer Andrew Wiffen, at the grand final event. 

The 29-year-old, who farms in partnership with his family near Hokitika, is one of three confirmed national finalists, with the four more regional finals to be held.

Second place went to Hurunui’s Sam Heaven, while Dunsandel Young Farmers Club member Robin Hornblow finished third. Hurunui’s Roscoe Taggart won the Agri-Sports Challenge with a fine display in the head-to-head fencing challenge.

In the AgriKids regional competition, also held in Hokitika, the Tasman Tikes from North Loburn School came out on top to qualify for the national final.