Tinui girls toast of the town

Posted by Nadine Porter on 4 October 2016 | Comments

It may be tiny but three 12-year-old girls from the remote East Coast settlement of Tinui have shown you don't have to be big to have dreams or to be national champions.

Samantha Marriott, Maddie Taylor and Georgia Higinbottom make up 60 per cent of the Year Eight roll at their local school, so you can imagine the elation of their peers and the community when they came back from the AgriKidsNZ Grand Final in Timaru as national champions.

It was no mean feat with the girls beating out 550 school children the length and breadth of the country including a few highly rated boys' teams.

But these girls did more than most. They prepared for a fierce battle, urged on by their Tinui School principal who set aside reading and writing lessons for an entire term so the girls could focus on studying for the national final.

And then there was the visits to the local beekeeper, their local Stihl Chainsaw and Honda dealer in Masterton where they skilled themselves up on anything that might help them win.

Langlands' Honda sales manager Grant Langlands recalls the moment three determined young girls arrived on his forecourt.

Taken aback by their enthusiasm and drive, he showed them what they wanted to know.

"They were very orderly and very smart about what they were doing and had a good plan and were keen to succeed."

But preparation wasn't enough to get them to the Grand Final, with teams expected to fundraise their own way if they get through their region's final.

That was when the Tinui community stepped in by buying raffle tickets the girls were selling...lots of them...And the prize?

"We offered ourselves as slaves for the day and said we'd do anything," Samantha says.

By anything she means hard physical work down on the farm if need be.

The three girls comprehensively beat the rest in Timaru and came home to a heroes’ welcome. At a recent school assembly where the girls were presented with their awards by NZ Young Farmers CEO Terry Copeland, most of the community came along to cheer them on.

Sam says it's a 'cool' place to grow up and says the girls have been inundated with phone calls and letters from locals congratulating them on their achievement.

And it's fed the girls appetites. They have a passion for the agricultural sector and all want to forge careers in it.

For Sam that means winning the TeenAg Grand Final, studying for an agricultural degree and becoming the first women to win FMG Young Farmer of the Year in the future.

She isn't alone with early entries for the FMG Young Farmer of the Year District Contest and Skills Day showing an increasing number of females competing. In the Christchurch District Final, 62 per cent of competitors were female – something NZ Young Farmers CEO Terry Copeland believes will continue.

"We are seeing a higher and higher number of females entering the primary industry and understanding that skills are not just needed down on farm, but also in the lab, technology...you name it, we need it."

Mr Copeland said there had been an awakening amongst youth around the exciting and varied opportunities the primary sector offered.

"And we are seeing that excitement reflected in stories such as these three incredibly talented girls who see a bright future in agriculture. It's also reflected in the number of females entering the FMG Young Farmer of the Year."

For now, the girls are taking a year off but you can bet they'll be back in 2018, ready to show why passion, focus and dreaming big can pay off.


For more information, please contact Nadine Porter, NZ Young Farmers communication manager on 0212140703 or email nadine.porter@youngfarmers.co.nz