Do Districts with Davo! Former townie wants more to ‘have a go’ at the FMG Young Farmer of the Year

Posted by Nadine Porter on 31 August 2017 | Comments

NZ Young Farmers Competitions Co-ordinator David Highsted is ‘having a go’ in the first stage of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year and is calling for others to join him.

The former Gore lad and Otago University Bachelor of Physical Education and Commerce graduate will compete in the West Coast District Contest and Skills Day on 10 December at Ahurua Domain.

“I’m looking forward to giving the Contest a go. It’s great to learn new skills - and also to be exposed to the myriad of opportunities agriculture offers.”

Although not from an agricultural background, David has worked casually in a number of agri-industry related jobs including crutching and tailing of sheep and milking cows when he was a student.

Since working at NZ Young Farmers, David said he has seen first-hand how important the sector is to New Zealand’s economy.

“The FMG Young Farmer of the Year showcases the importance of the sector and contributes to educating the general public as to how their food is produced among the people that are passionate about growing it. It is a vital tool in our ongoing efforts to attract people to the sector.

The Contest is also about learning in a fun environment and setting yourself a challenge and it calls on many skills, not just practical hands on farming. I can’t wait to get amongst it!”

Beginning on 30 September in North Canterbury, District Contest and Skills Days of the prestigious Contest will take place all over New Zealand, before Regional Finals begin in February and the 50th Anniversary Grand Final takes place in July.

Building on last year’s record number of entrants and female competitors, contest organisers believe the enticement of being the 50th FMG Young Farmer of the Year will be a drawcard for an even wider field this year.

Contest Chairperson and former Grand Finalist, Dean Rabbidge, said the FMG Young Farmer of the Year was in good heart and remained an iconic event in New Zealand agriculture.


“For 49 years we have seen New Zealand’s top agricultural leaders fight it out for the much sought after title. It is an honour that can never be revoked and with only 49 names on the winners’ board, you can be sure that the competition will be as hot as ever, to be named, the 50th champion.”

Mr Rabbidge said the Contest, which started out as a national radio quiz in 1969, had undergone many changes but the challenge remained the same.

“It’s the challenge second to none and remains the pinnacle of achievement. We are proud of the history and contribution the Contest has made to New Zealand agriculture and I’m sure this year will be no exception.”

In a new innovation this year, District Contest and Skills Days will see pairs competing side by side, as a way of encouraging more members to ‘have a go’. Those competing in pairs will not be eligible to compete in Regional Finals but instead will be able to split practical modules and encourage each other.

“We are all about showcasing agriculture to the next generation and introducing pairs will allow everyone to have a go at the Contest while at the same time learning about the importance of agriculture, including the careers it offers.”

The Grand Final, where the top seven contestants around the country compete against each other, will be hosted by Invercargill and will feature many special celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary, including an exhibition of memorabilia and a function to celebrate past winners and Grand Finalists.

Among those finalists have been Regional Councillors, MPs, Nuffield Scholars and industry leaders. 

It would be a special event, Mr Rabbidge said.

“The deep South has always had a special relationship to the Contest and many winners have come from our region. There is already excitement building around Invercargill and we know it will attract huge crowds.”

Entries are open online now at:


For more information please phone Nadine Porter, National Communications Manager, NZ Young Farmers on 021 2140703 or 

 Do it with Davo