Northern kicks off Young Farmer challenge

By Annette Lambly

The Northern District will be the first district to kick off the regional finals of the ANZ Young Farmer of the Year contest on February 9.

Eight contestants will vie for this year's regional title including three women: Charlotte Barr, Whangarei Club, Anna Simpson, Bay of Islands Club and Rachel Rogers, Auckland City Club.

The event will be held at Barge Park Showground in Maunu.

Last year, Waipu's Katherine Tucker was the third woman ever to qualify for a grand final in the competition after winning the Northern Regional final. She had come second in the regional final the year before.

After last year's win, the 26-year-old, who was first female to compete in the Grand Final since 2004, said she had relished the chance to be a role model to young women in the industry.

The national win was taken by Tasman's Michael Lilley, a 26-year-old rural veterinarian.

Twenty-three district finals were held around the country in late 2012 to determine the entrants for each regional final.

Seven other regions will follow the Northland event with Tasman on March 30 the last district to complete the regional competitions.

Now in its 45th year, the contest aims to inspire excellence, showcase innovation and growing human capabilities.

Contest operations manager Hilary Phillips said: "Once again, we had a tremendous turnout at the district finals across the country, with increased numbers on last year. Every event was challenging and really tested the contestants."

Challenges ranged from practical and theoretical knowledge to backing a heavy roller around a tight course and welding - a kiwi.

Once again a new crop of young farmers will battle it out in the TeenAg and AgriKidsNZ competitions that will takeplace alongside the regional finals.

The ANZ Young Farmer Contest Grand Final 2013 will take place in Auckland on May 16-18.

- Northern Advocate

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