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Down on the farm with Food and Fibre Futures


After a successful launch in Canterbury, the Inspiring Food and Fibre Futures in Schools events moved to Donald’s Farm in Auckland for the first two weeks of November.

These events are a partnership between Inspiring the Future Aotearoa, NZ Young Farmers, Ministry for Primary Industries, and GoHort. They aim to help students learn more about career pathways in the food and fibre sectors.

Students from local schools are invited for a day out on a farm. There, they meet people who work in food and fibre, learn about their jobs and take part in fun on-farm activities.

Manurewa High School was first up, with around 300 Year 9 students heading to the farm over three days. (Unfortunately the fourth day was rained out.) Papakura High School followed the next week, with around 200 students attending over three days.

Packed with fun

Each day, students rotated around Inspiring the Future sessions, a farm tour, an arboriculture tree-climbing demonstration, learning about farm machinery and learning about seeds. They even got to take seeds home to start their own horticulture ventures!

In the Inspiring the Future sessions, they met role models who work in agriculture, horticulture, forestry and fisheries – along with founders of sustainability businesses, a vet nurse, an electronics engineer who designs farm equipment, and many others.

The students played 20 questions to guess each role model’s job, then the role model revealed the answer by changing into uniform or bringing out something they use in their mahi.

After that, students chatted with role models in smaller groups. This part was magical – everyone was buzzing and wished they had longer.

Great feedback

Role model Brian Cox, the electronics engineer, said, “I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction with the students. Some students were full of enthusiasm despite the heat, and asked very good unscripted questions, showing their genuine interest in the work. Highly refreshing to see!”

Role model Chelsea Robertson, a Project Team Leader in arboriculture told us, “I know that from the questions and engagement we received from the students, we’ve actively promoted arboriculture as a possible career path. Pathways were opened up at this event and it was really fantastic to be part of it.”

Trevor McIntyre, NZ Young Farmers special projects manager, was delighted that “hosting the students at Donald’s Farm fulfilled the wishes of the late Donald Pearson, who gifted the farm to NZ Young Farmers to provide initiatives to attract young people to farming.”

Feedback from both schools was also overwhelmingly positive. Since the event, Papakura High School has around 80 students considering a pathway in food and fibre, and Manurewa High School told us that it was an amazing experience for staff as well as students.

Many people observed how engaged the students were – as well as considerate and respectful. It isn’t often that they get a day out on the land and a full-on farm experience, and it was clear from feedback that they loved it. The events have given them an opportunity to start thinking about what they might want to study and to match NCEA subjects to careers in food and fibre.

The farm staff and visitors from the industry who came to watch had great things to say, too. Along with everyone else, they were impressed with how inspiring the role models were.

A huge thank you to:

  • the role models
  • our partner event organisers – NZ Young Farmers, Ministry for Primary Industries and Go Hort
  • the organisations that put on fun activities for the students – NZ Arb, Go Hort and South Pacific Seeds
  • the Manurewa and Papakura High School staff and students, and
  • Donald’s Farm staff for hosting us all.

Who else was there?

Other organisations that came to watch were:

  • Dairy NZ
  • Donald’s Farm Board
  • Ministry of Education
  • NZ Sports Turf Institute
  • PITO – Trades Academy
  • Skellerup
  • Southern Cross Campus

Organisations that the role models work for include:

  • Arb-Eco Ltd
  • Ardmore Nurseries
  • Auckland Council
  • Dairy NZ
  • Datamars
  • Ecology New Zealand Ltd
  • Ellerslie Veterinary Clinic
  • Farm owner
  • Fonterra
  • Green Business HQ
  • Hibiscus Solutions
  • Landcorp
  • Leaderbrand Produce
  • Lely NZ
  • Ministry for Primary Industries
  • New Zealand Biosecurity Services
  • Perfectly Imperfect
  • Primary ITO
  • ProClimb Tree Care
  • Talleys

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