The region's top young farmer this year could be a Hunterville beauty therapist or a Taranaki man competing for the last time - or one of five others.

There will be seven competing in the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Taranaki Manawatu Regional Final in Whanganui on April 6. Their practical skills will be tested from 8am to 2pm in a free event at Cooks Gardens, with primary and secondary-aged agri competitions running at the same time.

Then, during an evening function in the Whanganui War Memorial Centre, Young Farmer contestants will be subjected to rapid-fire quiz questions. Te Radar will be the master of ceremonies, and Whanganui Mayor Hamish McDouall will help with the judging.

The show starts at 6.30pm and tickets cost $70. Attendees get a full meal and dessert, and there will be a bar and music from Taranaki covers band The Bush Buds.


The Manawatū Taranaki Young Farmer region stretches from Wellington up the west coast of the lower North Island to Urenui and Ruapehu. Whanganui Young Farmers' Club chairwoman Samantha Bills said its motto is "Best in the West".

The seven competing to be top are a really strong group this year.

"It's quite a diverse range of people. It's going to be quite interesting to see who comes through."

There are two from the Massey University Young Farmer Club, and one man from Taranaki, Blair Briscoe. It's the last time he can compete because he is nearly 31.

The remaining four are all from the large Marton Young Farmers' Club. One is James Beattie, who teaches agriculture at Taihape Area School. Another is Ashton Coates, who works for Wanganui Federated Farmers provincial president Mike Cranstone, a former contestant himself.

The only woman is Sarah Meurk, a beauty therapist from Hunterville who lives and works on a lifestyle block. She will be 22 weeks pregnant when she competes.

In July the winner will go on to Grand Finals in Napier, where there will be 1500 people watching.

Last year the Manawatū Taranaki final was held in Wellington. Bills has a committee to help her organise it here, and she's hoping to bring it back regularly.

Most of the practical skills tests for the young farmers will take place in 20-minute modules at Cooks Gardens during the day, each judged individually. The exact nature of the skills is a secret, and the exciting bits will be when the seven face off against each other in practical sports-like challenges.

Those moments will around the middle of the day, from 10.30 to 2pm.

At the same time region children aged 8-12, in teams of three, will be competing in the AgriKidsNZ regional competition, and teenagers will be competing in teams of two in the FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year regional.

Attendees will be able to wander between events and age groups, and there will be food carts on hand.