Teachers have been getting lessons of their own thanks to a series of primary industry-focused Teachers' Day Out events.

Oete Goat Farm at Patumahoe, South Auckland, recently hosted 80 secondary school teachers as part of the event.

"The majority of the teachers were from Auckland and it was their first time visiting a dairy goat farm," said Trevor McIntyre from NZ Young Farmers, which organised the trip.

"They were completely blown away by the level of skill and technology required to produce such sought-after, high quality milk."


Shaun Murray, who manages Oete Goat Farm, is at the coalface of New Zealand's $1 billion export infant formula industry.

The farm is nestled in rolling hills west of Pukekohe and has about 2500 milking does.

The goats are housed in a purpose-built barn where they're fed grass harvested from surrounding paddocks.

"We're one of the biggest dairy goat farms in the country," said Murray, who has been with the business for five years.

"We have eight full-time staff and a similar number of part-time and casual employees."

The farm – owned by Matt and Sarah Bolton - sells its milk to New Image Group Nutritionals, which has a processing plant nearby in Paerata.

The milk is turned into milk powder and high-value infant formula and sold in New Zealand and exported to countries including China and Vietnam.

Infant formula is big business this country. Since 2014 its export value has climbed from $401 million to more than $1.2 billion in 2018.


"Visiting our business was a real eye-opener for many of the teachers. I believe it helped change their perceptions of the agri-food sector," Murray said.

Herman Fourie from T&G Global talks to teachers about tomato production. Photo / Supplied
Herman Fourie from T&G Global talks to teachers about tomato production. Photo / Supplied

It was one of six events held around the country to showcase career opportunities in the primary industries.

Kerry Allen teaches agri-business, agriculture and horticulture at St Paul's Collegiate in Hamilton and attended the Auckland and Waikato events.

"I came away feeling refreshed and excited about the growing number of opportunities out there, especially in agri-tech," she said.

"My teaching really benefits from having a more detailed understanding of a subject and that passion flows through to students."

Teachers also toured the sprawling glasshouses of T&G Global in Pukekohe.

The business owns almost 30 hectares of glasshouses. The majority are used to produce tomatoes.

"We don't have those in the Waikato, so it was fantastic to be able to ask questions about the business," said Allen.

"It's been a while since I've been inside a glasshouse, so it was great to see the new technology they're using. I'm definitely going to be talking about that back in the classroom."

Bronwyn Dyer is a teacher at Hauraki Plains College, which has just planted 2000 trees – half of them blueberries – on a small farmlet used by students.

"I use everything I learn on the Teachers' Day Out. It's important students aren't being taught out-of-date information about the sector," she said.

"It was fantastic to visit Aeronavics in Raglan which manufactures drones."

"The business is a great example of how a student with an interest in robotics and agriculture can be involved in the industry," Dyer said.