A Te Awamutu vet has become the first woman in 15 years to be named the Waikato/Bay of Plenty FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

Emma Dangen, 24, won the fiercely-contested regional final in Matamata on Saturday, beating seven other contestants.

She's the first woman from the region to make it through to the prestigious grand final since Louise Collingwood in 2004.

"I'm speechless. It's been a massive day," said Dangen, who received a standing ovation from the crowd at the Matamata Racecourse.


Dangen's win means it's the first time in the contest's 51-year history there will be two women competing in the grand final.

Emma Dangen completes the dairy goat module. Photo / Supplied
Emma Dangen completes the dairy goat module. Photo / Supplied

"Georgie Lindsay, who'll represent the Tasman region, is a good mate. It'll be neat to attend grand final together," she said.

The long-running contest has undergone a major overhaul since marking its 50th anniversary in Invercargill last year.

"We're now showcasing all aspects of what it means to be a modern food producer,"  said Te Radar.

Listen to FMG Young Farmer of the Year Contest chair Bexx Brown talk to The Country's Rowena Duncum about Dangen's historic win below:

Contestants in the Waikato/Bay of Plenty regional final had to tackle a series of gruelling modules, including a fast-paced agri-knowledge quiz.

"We had to develop an international marketing pitch for a New Zealand smoothie product and construct a roadside stall to sell vegetables," said Dangen.

"We also had to assess the weight and age of dairy goats and determine the annual income from each doe. I really enjoyed that module," she said.

Dangen's parents and her brother, who farm at Muriwai northwest of Auckland, and her fiancé Chris Poole were in the audience.

Emma Dangen with her parents. Photo / Supplied
Emma Dangen with her parents. Photo / Supplied

The win netted her $12,000 worth of prizes, including an XR150 Honda farm bike.

She also picked up the innovation prize and the award for showcasing food production.

Dangen has worked as a vet at Vetora in Te Awamutu since January this year, after completing a Bachelor of Veterinary Science at Massey University.

She lives with her fiancé on a 750 cow dairy farm at Pirongia.

Contract milker Josh Cozens, 30, who represented the region at the grand final last year, came second.

Sophia Clark, 30, who's a 50:50 sharemilker and a forage agronomist with PGG Wrightson, placed third.

She picked up the prize for outstanding leadership and won the award for championing environmental best practice.

Apprentice engineer Isaac Billington, 23, was named the most tech-savvy contestant.

Emma Dangen is one of only six woman nationally to ever qualify for the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final.

This year's grand final is in Hawke's Bay in July.

Waikato/Bay of Plenty regional final results:

1st  Emma Dangen

2nd Josh Cozens

3rd  Sophia Clark

Innovation Award: Emma Dangen

People Award: Sophia Clark

Food Award: Emma Dangen

Environment Award: Sophia Clark

Technology Award: Isaac Billington