We've all grown up with the A & P show - and here in the Bay it feels like a kickstart into an early summer.

Ah yes, the good old Agricultural and Pastoral Society (that's right, they are the A & P show - but you already knew that). It's been around a while, since 1863, so a good chance to get along, and connect with a bit of our primary sectors - and our heritage.

Like many things these days, the interest in it as an event is competing with the challenge of modern day technology entertainment that kids are faced with.

So the A & P show is a great chance for the kids, and adults, to break away from technology and reconnect with our beautiful agriculture and pasture industry.


Sure, visiting the show isn't exactly getting down and dirty on the farm, but for some kids, in this modern technology world, it can at least be a good way to ignite a bit of interest and understanding for industries at the heart of Kiwiana.

The more interest we can stimulate in outdoor activities for kids these days the better. The connection to agriculture, which for us older New Zealanders seems so normal, could easily be quite lost on a generation of children growing up reliant and connected to techno devices for entertainment.

Now that we are past the middle of spring, and on the run in to summer, it's that time we start thinking more about the outdoors. Barbecues and alfresco areas getting prepped for action, and planning for Christmas break adventures.

Through the winter season though, one increasingly prevalent sight has been the use of gaming devices as a babysitter. At times it might be a necessary evil, but at others it is a pretty sad sight (or sound!).

Just last week I had to sit in a shuttle to the airport, with a family in the back keeping their kid entertained on the iPad turned up full volume with some high-pitched game blaring away.

Worse though is the babysitter iPad on the side lines at sports events, on a beautiful sunny day, seeing kids face down on a gadget, a world away playing some techno game.

Or worse still, introducing someone else's child to a computer game for the first time in their life. I had to recently save my youngest from some violent game on another parent's phone - "It's okay they said, she did ask" ... totally oblivious to the fact that it's not the manners I was worried about, it was the violent video game for an innocent little 5-year-old.

What about maybe having them watch their siblings play the real sport about 5m away right in front of their eyes? it's madness ... the gods must think we are crazy!

And if watching their siblings is boring, what about exploring their surroundings and making up games with the other kids hanging around. One of my fondest early childhood memories is joining up with all the other side line kids while big brother is playing rugby, and making up games in the old sheep shearing sheds, sliding down the chutes and exploring underneath.

All good stuff, and a great chance for the kids to develop some imagination. Technology gaming is the opposite, and can kill the imagination - that part of the brain can just switch off, dominated by all this intense input from the device.

Maybe Jacinda and co can ban technology as a babysitter, especially in beautiful outdoor spaces?

So for a bit of grassroots, get along to the A & P show, and especially the classic agriculture stuff going on - there was some great action in Gisborne last week, the shearing was awesome.

And rather than just heading along for candy floss and the rides, which by the way look like the exact same machines I used to ride on as a kid (scary), get around the other agricultural and pastoral stuff - which is what it was originally all about.

Marcus Agnew is the health and sport development manager at Hawke's Bay Community Fitness Centre Trust and is also a lecturer in sports science at EIT. All opinions are his and not those of Hawke's Bay Today.