Twenty-nine students undertaking the Certificate in Wool Technology course at Telford Farm Training Institute are in limbo after the liquidation of Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre.

''We've had 29 students pass the first year of the two-year Telford course but at present we're not sure whether they will be able to continue,'' Bruce Abbott, the executive office of the New Zealand Wool Classers Association said.

In addition there have been more than 40 inquiries for the next course and these two are on hold.

Taratahi, a private training establishment and agricultural education provider employing about 250 staff, had been placed in interim liquidation by the High Court at the request of its board of trustees.


Taratahi owned and managed eight farms throughout the country and faced financial and operational pressures caused by declining student numbers and associated funding shortages resulting in a reduction in the funding it receives for its educational business.

The Certificate in Wool Technology course, which had been part of the requirement for qualification as a wool classer, had been provided by Taratahi after earlier industry training initiatives collapsed in 2015.

Lincoln University and Telford had taken over the course briefly before the university pulled out and it was shut down.

''Our organisation has been working with the Southern Institute of Technology [SIT] and others to try and find a solution,'' he said.

''It's important we have a positive outcome as this is the only wool sector course available in the country.''

According to a statement from the Clutha District Council, SIT was intending to submit a proposal to Education Minister Chris Hipkins to take over operations of Telford by the end of January.

Abbott said people from all sections of the industry from all over New Zealand attended the wool course.

''As an industry we face the problem of an ageing workforce and a lack of new blood coming through, so courses such as this are a key component in our future,'' he said.


''There are not enough people to fill in the gaps.''

He said skills shortages affected all parts of the economy, especially the agricultural sector, but things had not been helped by an apparent unwillingness by the Government to take action to address the situation.