Cows and sheep all grazing on a farm with a good view of Auckland's Sky Tower is the story being told by the third Dairy Women's Network visual story telling project, Our People. Their Stories.

Mt Albert Grammar student Rose Young knows she is not your typical Auckland teenager.

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"It's central Auckland which is a bit crazy for me to be into agriculture I guess" she said, referring to the ASB MAGS 8.1 hectare working farm at her school.


"But when I'm here I don't feel like I'm at school, I feel like even though I'm learning so much while I'm doing it, it's more or less just something that I'd love to do anyway" she said.

The farm was established in 1932 when the Auckland Horticultural Society decided that city children were losing knowledge of farming practices and asked Mount Albert Grammar to teach agriculture and horticulture.

The Auckland Savings Bank became involved, and special legislation was passed to allow the bank to buy land from the neighbouring Kerr-Taylor sisters' farm and lease it back to the school at a peppercorn rental.

View of ASB MAGS Farm from Mt Albert in Auckland that is the focus of third Dairy Women's Network visual story telling project, Our People. Their Stories. Photo / Dairy Women's Network
View of ASB MAGS Farm from Mt Albert in Auckland that is the focus of third Dairy Women's Network visual story telling project, Our People. Their Stories. Photo / Dairy Women's Network

Out of its multicultural roll of over 3000, it now educates over 200 students annually from Years 10-13 in Agricultural and Horticultural Science with urban kids getting the unique opportunity to experience rural farm life without leaving the city.

ASB MAGS Farm Experience Centre Development Manager Peter Brice said the farm is all about connecting kids with opportunities at the heart of New Zealand's national identity, the agri-food and fibre sector.

"It's about milking dairy cows, sharing sheep, pruning vines, whatever it might be" he said.

"It's pretty special, eight hectares in the middle of Auckland with 260 agri, hort and agri-business kids which we've grown from 180, 18 months ago".

SB MAGS Farm Advisory Group Chair Mark Heer said the farm connected and engaged with city school students who just would not normally be exposed to a rural environment.


Working with the Dairy Women's Network made sense as there was a "natural alignment" between the two organisations said Heer.

"A strength of the Dairy Women's Network is engagement and connection, which aligns well with the goal of the ASB MAGS Farm to engage and connect the agri food and fibre industries with urban school students".

"It's all about creating more awareness and understanding about rural farm life and taking that to the greater New Zealand".

Sometimes the set up made it difficult to concentrate on school work, and Young said there were days when she and her friends would see Brice working on the farm.

Then they contemplated getting out their books and writing a sign saying "get us out Peter, let us help you" she laughed.

Watch Rose's story below:

"It's very different to what I'm used to, or what anyone in Auckland is used to," she said.

"For a lot of people in Auckland they sort of wonder what's my 'why' - why am I doing this?"

Young was now fully conscious about what her 'why' was - agriculture, and she appreciated the opportunities the farm presented her.

"It's just great to get outside and for girls it is really cool and especially because we have such great female teachers who get us into it as well".

In 2013, a new lease agreement was signed between ASB and the Mount Albert Grammar School Board of Trustees with ASB leasing the land to the school for an effective 99 year term at a nominal annual rent of one dollar.

Listen to Jamie Mackay interview Dairy Women's Network CEO Jules Benton about Our People. Their Stories. on The Country below:

There are plans to build a new agri food and fibre experience centre which could be a central hub for agri-business in Auckland said Brice.

Dairy Women's Network CEO Jules Benton said Our People. Their Stories had been a wonderful experience, getting into heartland New Zealand to meet some fantastic people and tell their amazing stories.

"It really has been truly special. The first two stories have been so well received and we know this one will be too as its quite different from the first two".

For Young, who has her sights set on a career in agriculture after leaving school, the farm just makes going to school so much more motivating.

"It's just our little slice of New Zealand right in the city which is awesome to have".