Lilley takes out the Ultimate Rural Challenge for 2012

Monday 28 May 2012, 9:52PM

By NZ Young Farmers


Michael Lilley
Michael Lilley Credit: NZ Young Farmers


Michael Lilley from the Tasman Region has won The National Bank Young Farmer Contest Grand Final this evening (May 26th) in Dunedin.

It was a case of second time lucky for the 26 year old rural veterinarian from Murchison after he last competed at Grand Final level in 2009 in Palmerston North.

Mr Lilley took out the prestigious title after three days of gruelling competition. The Technical Day at Invermay Research Station on Thursday tested the brain power of the Contestants while the more physical side of things took place at the Forsyth Barr Stadium yesterday at the Practical Day.

When asked what it mean to be crowned the 2012 Contest Champion Mr Lilley said “it is huge. It‘s a big title around rural New Zealand. It’s a big honour and quite an achievement.”

Nearly 1000 people attended the Televised Evening Show and Ball at Dunedin’s Edgar Centre which was broadcast live on TVNZ 7 with delayed coverage on TV ONE at 10pm.

Mr Lilley was joined by wife Kelly onstage after the big win. 2012 is a big year for the couple who are expecting their first child this year. Michael thanked Kelly for keeping him organised leading up to the final. He also thanked his parents for their support saying “growing up they taught me everything I know about farming .”

Mr Lilley said that  the title will give him the confidence to keep moving forward in the agriculture industry. He hopes to combine both his work as a vet and as a farmer in the years to come.

The win wasn’t expected for Mr Lilley who thought that he “came a bit unstuck on the Technical Day,” however; the technical challenges were where he did best. He won both the AGMARDT Agri-business Challenge and the Lincoln University Agri-growth Challenge. He took away a $15,000 AGMARDT scholarship and a $8,000 conference package from Lincoln University.

Mr Lilley wasn’t the only big winner on the night however. Otago/Southland’s Pete Gardyne also did well by taking out the Practical Challenges – the Ravensdown Agri-Skills and Silver Fern Farms Agri-sports. Mr Gardyne received a farm technology package from Silver Fern Farms worth $8.000 along with $14,000 worth of goods and services from Ravensdown.

Mr Lilley will be taking the Cloak of Knowledge and the Contest trophy back to the West Coast along with a prize pack valued at $70,000 which included $15,000 thanks to The National Bank, a Lincoln University scholarship for study towards a Specialist Masters of Professional Studies or entry to the Kellogg Programme valued at $5,000, Ravensdown quality products and services to the value of $7000, an AGMARDT scholarship towards a career development programme valued at $2,000, a farm technology package courtesy of Silver Fern Farms valued at approximately $15,000, a Honda TRX420FPM power steered four wheel drive manual ATV and a Honda EU20 inverter generator with a combined value of $18,000, a range of Swanndri clothing to the value of $1,000 and a selection of quality outdoor power equipment from ECHO to the value of $7,000.

The TBfree New Zealand Young Farmers 2012 National Conference was also held this week with delegates from all around the country coming to Dunedin for workshops, the Annual General Meeting, a bus trip and more.

The AgriKidsNZ and TeenAg 2012 Grand Finals also took place in Dunedin yesterday. Prue Buckingham, Jessica Dermody and Lachlan Crosbie from Tokonui took out the top spot in the AgriKidsNZ Competition. Tom Monteath and Danny Brooker from Chirstchurch Boys’ High School were the 2012 TeenAg Champions.