Ponui Island farmer qualifies for the FMG Young Farmer of the Year

Posted by on 25 January 2019 | Comments

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Living on an island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf has its perks for sheep and beef farmer George Watson.

The 26-year-old works on one of three farms on Ponui Island, which lies southeast of Waiheke Island.

The picturesque island has rolling grass-covered hills, pockets of bush and sheltered bays with white sandy beaches.

George Watson fencing on Ponui Island.The hills overlook ocean teeming with snapper.

“Fishing is my number one passion,” said George, who likes to get out on the water as often as he can.

George and his partner Carly Whitehead, 25, moved to the island from the Waikato in April 2018.

The farm they work on is 600 hectares and runs 1400 ewes and 300 Angus cattle.

Living on a remote island does have its challenges.

Electricity is generated by solar panels. The system is backed up by a diesel generator.

"We can't use an electric toaster or kettle in the kitchen because they'll blow a fuse," laughed George.

"So we've got used to cooking toast under the grill on the stove."

Island life hasn’t deterred the couple from being active members of Franklin Young Farmers.

“Getting to the mainland is weather dependent, but it’s not often we miss a club meeting,” said George.

It’s a 15 minute boat ride from Ponui Island to the mainland near Clevedon.

“It’s not too bad. I have worked on some high country stations which are more isolated,” said George.

George is the vice-chair of Franklin Young Farmers and has qualified for the FMG Young Farmer of the Year contest.

He’s one of eight competitors who’ll go head-to-head at the Northern regional final in Warkworth on March 16th.

“This is my first regional final. I’m a bit nervous, but I’m really looking forward to it at the same time,” he said.

Contestants will tackle a series of gruelling practical and theoretical modules at the Warkworth A&P Showgrounds.

It will be followed by a dinner and fast-paced agri-knowledge quiz hosted by Te Radar at the Warkworth Town Hall.

The seven other regional finalists are Brant Julian, Brody Goodmon, Cameron Massie, Daniel Richards, Jack Bellamy, James Robertson and Tim Dangen.

The winner will represent the region at the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final in Hawke’s Bay in July.