The RD Sixer’s, a team of Waikato Primary school students have taken out the title of the AgriKidsNZ Grand Champions in Whangārei.
Made up by 12-year-olds Liam Hodgson (Pirongia School), Archie Keelty (St Patrick's School) and Leighton Barnett (St Columbus School), the trio racked up the most points after a grueling day of challenges.
The Tasman Tykes from North Loburn School (Tasman) made up by Hamish Webb, PJ Mackintosh and Annabelle Birchler were the AgriKidsNZ runners up and also topped the points in the modules.
Meanwhile Longbeach Farmwise came in third place and were the AgriQuiz winners, made up by Edward Pottinger, Liam Lash and Edward White from Longbeach School.
The AgriKidsNZ Grand Champions were incredibly excited to have taken out the national title, after entering the competition on a whim for the first time.
In fact, Leighton and Liam were first introduced through the contest, meeting for the first time just weeks before competing in the Waikato Bay of Plenty AgriKidsNZ Regional Finals.
“At first we were pretty rough around the edges, but we got better over the day,” said Leighton.
All three boys come from rural backgrounds and brought their own strengths.
Leighton was strongest in the practical aspects, Archie had a wide range of knowledge and Liam particularly enjoyed the academic based animal aspects with two rural veterinary parents.
“It's just incredible to be given the honour to be able to be a part of this,” Leighton said.
Archie and Leighton both want to be farmers in the future, while Liam has his sights set on being a freshwater ecologist or marine biologist.
They said the team's secret to success was all the help they had to get to Whangārei.
The contest for primary school-aged children is based on challenges from the food and fibre sector, where they compete in teams of three.
At Grand Final, teams were tested on their knowledge of simple everyday ways to reduce the human impact on the environment, growing avocados and making guacamole, apiculture and wintering hives, native plants and where specific cuts of meat from.
Their practical skills were put to the test by making a smoothie without any electricity where they had to use a bike to generate enough power to work the blender and inspect, disassemble and reassemble a Honda CRF 125F air cleaner on the two-wheeler motorbike.
They channeled their inner firefighter with Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) in a combat challenge, completing a scaled-down version of the FENZ obstacle course which included, climbing and descending a two-story scaffold tower with a bandolier hose, hoisting hoses to the top of the tower, hitting a weight along a channel, zig-zagging down an obstacle course through fire extinguishers, hitting a target with a hose and pulling a weighted sledge 10 meters.
The race-off saw teams build a planter box with appropriate lining, place soil and plant seeds before they painted it and constructed an Irrigation NZ water system to irrigate it. They then moved on to the ratchet challenge, where they had to thread ratchets properly and secure a load on a truck.
NZYF Chief Executive Lynda Coppersmith said she was impressed with the commitment and passion that the competitors brought to the contest this year.
“AgriKidsNZ teams always take the contest seriously, study hard, show enthusiasm, initiative, and commitment,” she said.
“They all have such a competitive spirit and it's awesome to watch them on the day, put their heart and soul into the event and showcase their passion for the food and fibre sector.”
“Most of these teams have had to fundraise for months to be able to compete in Grand Final, and we want to say a huge thank you to the contestants, their families, friends and local communities for getting them to Whangarei and supporting their teams,” she said.
The top three teams from each of the seven New Zealand Young Farmers’ regions qualified for Grand Final, from their regional final held near the start of the year.
The FMG Young Farmer of the Year Contest Series is supported by FMG, Ravensdown, Worksafe, Ministry for Primary Industries, Environmental Protection Authority, Honda, STIHL, Lincoln University, Massey University, New Holland Agriculture and PTS Logistics.
1st - The RD Sixer’s - Liam Hodgson (Pirongia School), Archie Keelty (St Patrick's School) and Leighton Barnett (St Columbus School)
- Prize = FMG backpack, $60 cash, Ravensdown duffle bag made from repurposed billboard vinyl, $70 voucher from Massey University, prize pack from New Holland & a LifeStraw and gaiters from MPI
2nd prize - The Tasman Tykes, North Loburn School (Tasman) - Hamish Webb, PJ Mackintosh and Annabelle Birchler.
- Prize = FMG backpack, $50 cash, Ravensdown duffle bag made from repurposed billboard vinyl, $50 voucher from Massey University & prize pack from New Holland.
3rd prize - Longbeach Farmwise, Longbeach School - Edward Pottinger, Liam Lash and Edward White.
- Prize = FMG backpack, $40 cash, Ravensdown duffle bag made from repurposed billboard vinyl, $30 voucher from Massey University & prize pack from New Holland.
AgriKidsNZ Contestant of the Year – Hannah Tyler (East Coast, The Farm Girls).
- Prize = FMG backpack and a $25 Hunting and Fishing voucher
Category winners (prize = FMG backpack and a $25 Hunting and Fishing voucher)
Module – Tasman Tykes
AgriQuiz – Longbeach Farmwise
Race off - The Udder Disappointments from Kamo Intermediate
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