A corps of talented young Wairarapa farm girls and boys will be flying their school banners high during the AgriKids and TeenAg sections of the NZ Young Farmers national showdown in Timaru in July.
The NZ Farm Girl team from Tinui School, including Georgia Higinbottom, 12, Maddie Taylor, 12, and Samantha Marriott, 12, qualified for the national finals after taking the East Coast regional AgriKids crown at Dannevirke on Saturday, and Rathkeale College students and brothers Callum, 16, and Archie Woodhouse, 14, qualified for the TeenAg national contest after winning the regional round in their category on the same day.
The East Coast regional contest drew school teams from an area extending along the east coast from Gisborne in the north to Wairarapa in the south.
The Tinui School team won a hard-fought victory from a field of 45 other school teams at the regional finals that included two other teams from the small country school.
Principal MaryClare Kavanagh said the victory was an unexpected reward after a repeat performance was expected from Masterton Intermediate School, that had placed first and third at the contest last year.
Mrs Kavanagh said the teams were given a two-page written test on agriculture and practical tests that included changing a quad bike tyre and identifying cuts of meat, the parts of a cow's stomach and breeds of cow, farm hazards and barnyard noises.
"They kept saying the things they were given were easy but all the girls live on farms, so it kind of was easy for them, especially since they were well-prepared. It was really cool and was a pretty close finish."
The AgriKids and TeenAg contests pace the New Zealand Young Farmer competition that yields national finalists from contests held for seven regions throughout the country. Last year the regional competition was held at Greytown.
The top seven regional teams from each of the AgriKids and the TeenAg competitions contest the national final in Timaru later this year.
The Woodhouse brothers said the contest at Dannevirke included a field of 30 teams and was based mainly on agri-skills.
First round tasks included the identification of parts of a fleece, water contamination in fuel, a variety of agronomy tasks, and quizzes on personal health, first aid, and general knowledge, and general skills like loading tyres on to a trailer.
A second round of competition was conducted against the clock and included setting up a tent and building a piece of outdoor furniture, and a simple rope fence.
The brothers said they had studied ahead of the contest, which they won by a full 10 points, and each took a $100 Fishing and Hunting voucher for the TeenAg win , while Callum took another $50 voucher as competitor of the day.
"We did a bit of studying but both of us grew up on a sheep and beef farm a few Ks east of Eketahuna, so we were as ready as we could be and we're really looking forward to Timaru," Callum said.
Callum was vice-president of a TeenAg group that had been formed at the school and the brothers were also to spend time at a Rathkeale College exhibition tent at the Central Districts Fieldays at Manfeild in Feilding this weekend.
Rathkeale College deputy principal Mason Summerfield is to teach Year 13 agriculture as a new focus of senior study and Coadette Low had been appointed as the new agriculture teacher at Rathkeale.
A new stockyard was built at the school over the summer break as well, school spokesman Grant Harper said.
College old boys Richard French and Adam Vollebregt, who were both regional finalists at the regional contest on Saturday, had congratulated their younger counterparts, the Woodhouse brothers, on the day.
French finished third overall and Vollebregt won the physical cycling challenge. Vollebregt's father, Leo, had won the national contest in 1987, which had been held in Masterton that year and French's father, Len, was on the organising committee.