After 22 District Finals, seven Regional Finals and hours of preparation; it’s finally here. The National Bank Young Farmer Contest Grand Final for 2011 is underway after an official opening today at the Masterton Town Hall.
The Grand Finalists have each won their respective Regional Finals to make it through to the 2011 Grand Final to be held in Masterton until Sunday. They are: Shane Munford from Northern, Tim van de Molen from Waikato/Bay of Plenty, Mike Croad from East Coast, Cam Brown from Taranaki/Manawatu, Cole Groves from Tasman, Will Grayling from Aorangi and Hayden Peter from Otago/Southland.
The seven Grand Finalists were among the guests at the Town Hall where Mike Kawana, Cultural Advisor for Rangitane o Wairarapa, gave a powhiri and led a waiata. There were welcomes from the Mayor of Masterton Garry Daniell and the National President for New Zealand Young Farmers Richard Fowler; 2010 Contest Champion Grant McNaughton also attended.
The Official Opening was also a chance for Contest Compere Jim Hopkins to introduce and interview the seven Contestant’s one by one. It’s something they’ll have to get used to over the coming days as tomorrow sees them plunged into the national spotlight as they are pushed to the limit over three days of fierce competition, kicking off with the Technical Day tomorrow at Brancepeth Station. Friday plays hosts to the Practical Day at Solway A&P Showgrounds and finally the Contest Champion will be announced at the Wairarapa College Auditorium during the Televised Grand Final Evening Show which will screen live on TVNZ 7 at 7.05pm on Saturday.
It’s an even playing field for the 2011 Contestants, with all seven being new to Grand Final. The dairy industry is well represented in this year’s crop of Contestants; four of them are dairy farmers, two represent the sheep and beef sector and rounding off the field is a rural banker.
Not only will one of the seven be crowned the Contest Champion for 2011, they’ll also take away a prize pack valued at over $62,000 that includes 12 month complimentary use of an Isuzu D-Max valued at approximately $15,000, a Honda TRX420FPM power steer four-wheel drive manual ATV valued at $15,000, $10,000 cash from The National Bank, quality products and services from Ravensdown to the value of $7,000, a selection of quality outdoor power equipment from ECHO to the value of $7,000, a Lincoln University scholarship for study towards a Specialist Masters of Professional Studies or entry to the Kellogg Programme valued at $5,000, an AGMARDT Scholarship towards a career development programme valued at $2,000 and a range of Swanndri clothing to the value of $1,000.