Peter O’Connor, 24, is Farm Manager on a 400-cow dairy farm operation near Methven and has been crowned the Aorangi FMG Young Farmer of the Year.
He spent the day competing in a range of agricultural-based challenges at the Ashburton A&P Showgrounds on Saturday, followed by a buzzer quiz on Saturday evening.
This Regional Final was Peter’s fourth attempt at a Grand Final position, and he was over the moon to take out the top spot.
“It’s pretty satisfying to get the win, particularly after my brother got through the other weekend – it’s a relief to join him at the Grand Final!” he said.
Peter says he prepared well for the day, but the competition always has unknown challenges.
“It’s hard not knowing how you’ve gone in anything throughout the day. You might feel like you’ve done a module well, but it’s hard to know how the judges will interpret what you’ve done.
“I put in a lot more preparation for this year’s Regional Final. Going back through old Regional Final questions and talking to more people really paid off.”
A competition highlight was the head-to-head round where contestants work side by side with just 30 minutes to complete tasks that mimicked a ‘day in the life’ of a farmer. Starting in a sleeping bag, contestants had to get dressed in overalls and gumboots, untangle a reel, crush grapes (water balloons), reassemble a Milwaukee chainsaw, weigh vegetables, chop wood and toss a gumboot to finish it off.
“It was a great way to finish off the practical challenges and it felt great to finish first,” Peter says.
While he has yet to plan his grand final approach, the dairy farmer knows he will need to brush up on his sheep knowledge.
“I’m going to need to polish up on that and my shearing skills. I’ll be working on broadening my knowledge as much as I can as there are a lot of different things you can get asked.”
When asked if it will be a team effort for the O’Connor family in preparing for July’s final, Peter said some things will be kept under wraps.
“We’ll probably try and do some prep together but I’m not sure what Nick’s thoughts on that are! We’ll probably help each other out a bit, but not show a full hand,” he laughed.
James Bell from Glenavy Young Farmers placed second, with Jess Cunliffe from Pendarves Young Farmers securing the final spot on the podium.
The next generation of young farmers also took part in Saturday’s competition, with Jack Foster and James Clark taking out the title of Aorangi FMG Junior Young Farmers of the Year for the second year in a row. The Waihi Stags made up of Cameron Siegert, Leo Acland and Jack Foley from Waihi School were the Aorangi AgriKidsNZ winners.
Ruby Shortus and Maddie Matthews from Waimate High School placed second in the FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year Competition.
Runner-up and third in the AgriKidsNZ contest were Team Legendairy made up of Flynn Wallace, Charlie Clark and Georgia Heaven from Mt Somers Springburn and the Big Bulls made up of Santi Zimmermann, Fergus Lane and Cameron Lane from Waimate High School. They have also been invited to July’s FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final.
New Zealand Young Farmer Board Chair Jessie Waite says this year’s Grand Final is shaping up to be one of the best yet.
“We’re starting to get a glimpse of the impressive array of skills and talent coming through with the next generation of young farmers. There’s so much happening right now in the primary sector with science, innovation and new technologies. The future of farming is certainly bright.”
Waite says she’s thankful for the support of volunteers and sponsors who continue to back the event, year after year.
“The contest wouldn’t be what it is today without them. There’s a lot of hard work that goes on behind the scenes – from coming up with ideas for the competition to supplying the equipment needed on the day and helping with the set-up of the event. We’re so grateful to everyone who has played a part”.
The FMG Young Farmer of the Year Contest is proudly supported by FMG, Ravensdown, WorkSafe, Environmental Protection Authority, Ministry for Primary Industries, Milwaukee, Honda, Lincoln University, Massey University, PTS Logistics, New Holland and Bushbuck.
To view full results, please click here.
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