Tasman next to find their Grand Finalist

Wednesday 15 February 2012, 11:20AM

By NZ Young Farmers



Otago/Southland has found their Grand Finalist for The National Bank Young Farmer Contest; this weekend it’s Tasman’s turn.

Greymouth will play host to the Tasman Regional Final on Saturday 18th February with the Practical Day starting at 8.00am in the heart of Greymouth – the Floodwall. AgriKidsNZ and TeenAg Competitions will also take place during the Practical Day. Then the Contest heads to Shantytown for the Evening Show starting at 5.30pm.

The best Contestant’s from all over the Tasman Region will be on display during the Regional Final and all come from different backgrounds. There’s a vet, a sharemilker, a beef farmer, three students, a dairy farm manager and a livestock contractor.

Michael Lilley is no stranger to the Contest; he last competed in 2009 at the Grand Final in Palmerston North. The 26 year old Veterinarian from the Tapawera Club is married to Kelly and they’re expecting their first child this year. Michael has a Bachelor of Veterinarian Science, his work mainly focuses on dairy and his short term goal is ownership or partnership in a Clinic with the eventual goal being farm ownership.

Twenty six year old Mark Riddington is the Junior Vice Chair of the Hurunui Club and is recently married to Suzy. He milks 350 cows on a 121ha effective dairy unit and this is his third Regional Final. Mark has a Bachelor of Commerce (Agriculture) from Lincoln University and hopes to one day own a 400-500 cow dairy farm.

Beef farmer Chris Stewart will be competing in his first Regional Final. Previously a fitter and turner in the mining industry, the 25 year old now manages a 240ha beef breeding and finishing unit and is the Junior Vice-Chair of the Grey Valley Club. Chris hopes to one day own a dry stock farm.

Tasman Regional Chair Lisa Chapman will also be competing in her first Regional Final. The Christchurch City Club member is a student at Lincoln University and is currently studying towards a Bachelor in Agricultural Science; she recently spent her summer holidays dairying in Mid Canterbury. The 28 year old plans to work on farm or in the agriculture industry on completion of her degree.

Reuben Carter is also studying towards a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Lincoln University and is also a member of the Christchurch City Club. The 28 year old is the current Christchurch District Chair and has previously worked as a tractor mechanic and on various farming operations in his summer holidays. This will be Reuben’s fifth Regional Final and he hopes to one day own a mixed cropping and sheep farm.

Like Reuben and Lisa, Caleb Strowger is also studying towards a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Lincoln University. The twenty year old is a member of the Lincoln Club, has a partner Sarah and is competing in his second Regional Final. He hopes to one day own a farm and has worked on various farming operations in his summer breaks from University.

Hayden George from the Grey Valley Club holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (Agriculture) and has a partner, Angel. He has previously worked as an English Teacher in South Korea along with other dairy farming jobs. The 28 year old is now a dairy farm manager milking 950 cows on a 445ha milking operation and manages four staff members. He has been a member of New Zealand Young Farmers for 10 years and has held various roles in different Clubs.

Twenty six year old Sam Bryan from the Christchurch City Club is a Livestock Contractor. He covers Canterbury with a mobile crutching trailer and dags sheep along with some tailing in the Spring months. Sam has a Bachelor of Agricultural Science from Lincoln University and hopes to buy his own farm by building equity through his work and property or land. This will be his second Regional Final.

These Young Farmers have many Challenges to complete before they can make it through to Grand Final in Dunedin in May. First up is the AGMARDT Agri-business Challenge, a written exam that will test their theoretical business skills. The Ravensdown Agri-skills Challenge will then take place throughout the morning; here contestants will complete eight 30 minute practical modules that will test the skills they possess and maybe some they don’t!

The Lincoln University Agri-growth Challenge sees the Contestants facing an interview panel made up of three judges throughout the morning. Finally; the big crowd pleaser that is the Silver Fern Farms Agri-sport Challenge kicks off after lunch. In this physical gut-buster Contestants will race against each other to complete a series of agricultural tasks; but the quickest may not necessarily be the victor – points are allocated for both speed and quality.

Contestants then have a couple of hours to prepare a speech and get tidied up for the Evening Show at Shantytown from 5.30pm. Here the winners of the various Challenges will be announced and question buzzer rounds will give Contestants a chance to pick up more points before the Tasman Regional Final winner is announced.

Contestants will not only be competing for a spot in the Grand Final but also a generous prize pack worth over $10,000. The pack includes a Honda XR125 two-wheeled farm bike valued at $4000, a $1500 Lincoln University Scholarship, $1000 cash and $500 towards a capability development programme from AGMARDT, $1000 worth of Ravensdown quality fertiliser products, $1000 from The National Bank, clothing valued at $750 from Swanndri and Silver Fern Farms provide a package of quality produce valued at $500.

AgriKidsNZ and TeenAg Competitions will also be taking place at the Practical Day from 8am and the public is encouraged to come along and support these future farmers as they too try to gain a spot at Grand Final in Dunedin this May.

For more information see the MEDIA CENTRE at