A student from a tiny Taranaki school with 17 pupils has qualified for the national final of a major agricultural contest.
Darren Pease is a Year 8 student at Marco School, east of Whangamomona.
The 12 year old was part of a talented trio who placed second in the Taranaki/Manawatū AgriKidsNZ regional final in Whanganui on Saturday.
His teammates Liam Hutchinson, 12, and Pippa Waite, 12, attend nearby Toko School.
The fiercely-contested event had 144 students take on a series of fun agricultural modules.
"They are over the moon. They are all very excited and wearing their medals at school today," says Pippa's mum Kim Waite, who is principal of Toko School.
"The students are extremely proud of themselves. They really enjoyed taking part in all the modules and activities."
The aim of the event is to get kids excited about opportunities in the primary industries.
Modules tested the students' practical skills and knowledge. The top seven teams went head-to-head in a fast-paced race-off hosted by Te Radar.
"They won that part of day. They did so well, but I couldn't watch as they attempted to jam that tent back into the bag," laughed Kim.
Toko School works with three small eastern districts schools Huiakama, Makahu, Marco to provide opportunities for their students.
"If those three schools don't have enough students to field a team for an event or competition we will help them out," said Kim.
"At the end of the day, we don't want kids missing out because of the size of their school."
Sam Cranstone, 12, Falcon Proffit, 11, and Thomas Revell, 11, from Huntley School in Marton won the AgriKidsNZ contest.
Hugh Thomas, Abbey Grant and Grier Cunliffe, from South Makirikiri School in Marton, were third.
All three teams have qualified for the AgriKidsNZ Grand Final in Hawke's Bay in July and will now begin fundraising to get there.
More than 60 students from across New Zealand tackle a series of modules and challenges at the event.
It will take place alongside the FMG Young Farmer of the Year and FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year grand finals.