Diverse bunch through to the Northern regional final of FMG Young Farmer of the Year

Posted by on 8 November 2016 | Comments

A townie, a Frenchman, a female working for past Grand Finalists and a dairy farmer are the top four Upper Northern winners of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year District Contest and Skills Days. 

Te Hana dairy farm worker, Kurtis Danks may have grown up in Wellsford but his passion has always been with farming and that showed when he commandingly won the District Final in the weekend. 

The 21-year-old has an impressive resume for someone so young, including, being named runner-up Trainee of the Year at the Northland Dairy Awards last year. He also came eighth in the Northern Regional Final last year in his first year of competing. 

Although not raised on a farm Kurtis got plenty of experience helping out his grandparents on their farm in the school holidays and entered the industry through a work experience programme at High School. 

Currently working towards Level 5 qualification through the Primary ITO and the chairman of Kaipara Young Farmers, Kurtis has shown that with determination and self belief it's possible to achieve much at a young age and will be one to watch at the Regional Final. 

Right on his heels however is Clement Lafon – a Frenchman who moved to New Zealand three years ago after completing a five year engineering degree. 

Back in France Clement grew up on a cropping farm in Albi in the South West of France and although he initially came to New Zealand as a mechanic, the pull of the land saw him fall in love with the dairy industry. 

Now a dairy farm manager on a 530 Jersey cow farm in Kamo, he is in his second year of competing and is excited to progress to the Regional Final. 

"Competing in the Contest is the best way to learn about New Zealand farming." 

Third place getter Rachael Blackley is just one of three females nation-wide that are through to Regional Finals so far and looks likely to be in her element during the next stage of New Zealand's elite agricultural contest. 

And working as an assistant manager on a 460 cow dairy farm in Matarau for Douglas Farms she is likely to get a lot of help with farm manager Jake Thomson and sharemilker Ian Douglas being Grand Finalists in 2016 and 2013. 

The 24-year-old grew up on a sheep and beef farm in Purua and graduated from Massey University with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science. Although this is the third time she has entered the Contest it will be her first time in a Regional Final. 

Dairy Farm Manager Ryan Morris, 26, rounds out the top four and is in his first year of competing at the Contest. 

Only two days back in the country from a five week OE, Ryan will now have to juggle settling back into routine on his families 600 cow dairy farm in Mangakahia and preparing for what will undoubtedly be one of the biggest days of his life. 

The four will now go on to the Northern Regional Final in Whangarei on 18th March  where they will meet four other contestants from the Lower Northern District Contest and Skills Day (held on 19th November) to fight for a spot in the Grand Final to be held next July in the Manawatu. 


How the FMG Young Farmer of the Year works:  


400 contestants will compete in 22 District Contest and Skills Day nation-wide where they can opt to 'Have a Go' which means they cannot progress to the next level – or they can enter competitively.  

56 contestants will compete in seven regional finals from Northern, Waikato-Bay of Plenty, Taranaki-Manawatu, East Coast, Tasman, Aorangi, Otago-Southland from February to April.  

The seven winners of the regional final will go the Grand Final in July 2017 at Manawatu.  

In 49 years only three females have ever made the Grand Final:  

Denise Brown who placed seventh in 1981  

Louise Collingwood who was RUNNER UP and third place in 2003 and 2001  

Katherine Tucker placed seventh in 2012  

For more information please contact Nadine Porter, Communications Manager on 021 2140703 or email nadine.porter@youngfarmers.co.nz