Changes to the Hawke's Bay and Royal New Zealand Show in Hastings appeared to have little impact on the numbers who took part in the show's schools programme at the Hawke's Bay Showgrounds yesterday.

More than 2000 pupils from 24 schools attended the show, the first day of what has been shortened from a three-day show to two days.

Schools day had previously been held on the Wednesday of show week, leading into the Hawke's Bay Anniversary Show.

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All go at the Royal A&P Show


Hawke's Bay A and P Society administration manager Julie Wakefield said 1439 pupils and 570 teachers and helpers came to the show, the biggest being the 210 for Te Kura Kaupapa o Ngati Kahungunu, near Flaxmere, and 150 from closest school Mayfair.

It was a big day particularly for the 65 from Wairoa Primary School, leaving Wairoa at 7.30am and arriving home about 5.30pm, their days at the show starting with "breakfast", provided to all of the school groups by dairy giant Fonterra.

"It is a long day, but they get a four-day break to get a bit of rest," said principal Richard Lambert, who grew-up at Nuhaka, east of Wairoa, and who had a bit of history in pony club events.'

He said many of the children were familiar with common farm animals, but showed particular interest in the highland yak and other variations around the grounds, including veteran show personality Les Vesty and his Animal World.

They were fascinated by such things as "the size of the pigs," and the principal was impressed by those telling the children about the animals. "The people talking about it were so knowledgeable," Mr Lambert said.