A record number of women will compete in this year's Waikato/Bay of Plenty Regional Final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year.
Three of the seven competitors in the event, which is being held in Rotorua on March 10th, are women.
It's one of seven regional finals being held across New Zealand to decide contestants for the grand final of the prestigious competition in Invercargill in July.
Rotorua will be represented by Colin Tremain.
The qualified builder helped construct the Te Mihi Power Station north of Taupo.
He now manages a 1750-cow dairy farm and support unit in Rotorua.
"We milk through two sheds. The farm employs four full-time and two part-time staff," said Tremain.
"I really enjoy the personal development aspect of the contest."
It'll be dairy farmer Sophia Clark's third attempt at winning a regional final.
"This is the most women I've ever seen make it through to the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Regional Final," said Clark.
The 29-year-old 50:50 sharemilks 270 cows at Waharoa near Matamata and works part-time for a seed company.
Last year she undertook the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme and explored strategies for a 50:50 sharemilker to cost-effectively improve their herd.
Clark enjoys a challenge and convinced fourth-generation dairy farmer Rachael Phillips to give the contest a go.
Phillips is in her first season 50:50 sharemilking 240 cows in Te Awamutu and has previously milked 440 ewes in England.
It'll be Zara Cosh's second time competing.
"It makes me feel proud to see a growing number of women taking on the blokes," said the 25-year-old who manages a 165-cow dairy farm at Huntly.
The last woman to win the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Regional Final was Louise Collingwood in 2003.
The trio will face off against four men, who are also all dairy farmers.
Josh Cozens is a qualified automotive service technician who contract milks 350 cows at Whakatane.
This will be his third attempt at clinching a spot in the grand final.
"Each time I've done the contest it's been different, so the variety makes taking part quite rewarding," said the 29-year-old.
Eoin O'Mahony contract milks 650 cows on a split-calving farm near Tokoroa.
He came runner-up Waikato Share Farmer of the Year in the 2017 NZ Dairy Industry Awards.
"I like the opportunities available for growth and succession in New Zealand," said O'Mahony, who is from Ireland.
Andrew Wards grew up watching the FMG Young Farmer of the Year on television.
He aspired to have a go when he was old enough.
The 22-year-old is in his first season lower order sharemilking on a 230-cow farm south of Otorohanga.
"I always aim to do the best I can," said Wards, who is studying for a Diploma in Agribusiness Management through PrimaryITO.
The eighth spot in the contest, which was to be filled by Colby Harris, will be left vacant as a mark of respect following his sudden death in December 2017.
Colby was second-in-charge on a 300-cow dairy farm at Huntly and a much-loved member of North Waikato Young Farmers.
The regional final is being held at the Rotorua A&P Showgrounds on March 10. The evening show, hosted by Te Radar, is at the city's Novotel Hotel.
It's the 50th anniversary of the iconic agricultural competition which was first held in 1969.
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