Killer line-up for Aorangi Regional Final of FMG Young Farmer of the Year

Posted by Nadine Porter on 29 November 2016 | Comments

It's one heck of a road to make the Grand Final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year if you come from the Aorangi region this year.

Traditionally a strong region with six Grand Final winners in the past 14 years, this year looks to be just as tough with eight extraordinary young men vying to get through.

The North Otago District Contest and Skills Day provided the final two contestants this past weekend with Arjan Van't Klooster and John Mehrtens taking out first and second.

Van't Klooster came fourth at last year's Regional Final where the winner, Athol New, went on to become the FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

And at only 25, the hot favourite to take out the Aorangi Regional Final, has a lot of expectation on his shoulders.

"Particularly from my parents," he jokes.

Van't Klooster and his fiancée Kelsie Chamberlain bought a 164 hectare 600 cow farm in Glenavy last year and are also lower order share milking 1200 cows on his parents’ farm.

Overseeing eight staff and managing two properties and holding a Bachelor of Commerce and Agriculture means Van't Klooster will be a major threat to the other contestants.

However, Mehrtens is considered to be another front runner with his all-round experience - having worked on dairy, arable and pig farms.

He also competed in the Regional Final last year where he finished sixth, and in his last eligible year in the Contest he wants to give it his all to get through.

Currently working on a 650 hectare Waimate dryland cropping farm, Martens has previously worked on a Mid Canterbury dairy farm, harvested in America and worked on a large cropping and pig farm in the United Kingdom.

He also has a Bachelor of Agriculture to his name and has Contest history in his family with his Uncle Tim Mehrtens being a former Aorangi Regional Finalist.

South Canterbury's Toby How and Caleb Strowger and Mid Canterbury's Cameron Black are also expected to be hot contenders to make a Grand Final with early speculation that whoever wins this tough contest, could be on their way to winning the Grand Final for Aorangi for the third year in a row.

The final line-up to compete in the Aorangi Regional Final on 25th February at Methven is:

Cameron Black, David Wards, James Gunson, Robbie Hill (Mid Canterbury, Caleb Strowger, Toby How (South Canterbury), Arjan Van't Klooster, John Mehrtens (North Otago)

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

 Aorangi RFinalist 2