Emma graduated from Taratahi in 2008 after completing her National
Certificate in Agriculture Level 4 studies, qualifying in sheep and beef. It
was from here Emma set her sights on heading across the ditch for a diverse
experience, and that’s what she found, after securing herself a position on
Pretty Plains Station at Hughenden, Queensland Australia. Pretty Plains
Station is a 200,000 acre cattle ranch with around 8,000 cattle.
Emma says her Taratahi qualifications make her more employable. “Working on a cattle ranch is totally different to anything you’d do in New Zealand. My qualifications definitely make a difference-they prove that I have good skills working with stock.” A typical day for Emma would begin around 6am with loading up the ute with supplies and gear. She would drive out to the paddock that contained the stock for mustering, and be given a place to wait. The team would then drive the cattle down to the yards, using motorbikes and a helicopter to move the stock either along a fence line, or down a lane way. “Once we got to the yards we’d draft up, and the cows, weaners and calves would be separated. The next day we’d brand the calves and castrate them with a scalpel, then ID tag them in the ear. The steers would also be given a hormone growth capsule in their left ear that makes them put on weight. These steers can gain an extra 30kg over their lifetime, so out there they think it’s worth it! It’s not unusual for cattle stations to employ girls. They usually use them in the feed locks, as we’re far better at calming down the stock!” At the beginning of 2010 Emma was working as a shepherd at Tempello Station in Blenheim. “I love farming in New Zealand, and my ultimate goal is to work in the High Country down South. My time in Australia has given me a taste for farming in other countries” At the beginning of May Emma headed off to Canada to work as a shepherd on a big Station “That’s the awesome thing about agriculture, it takes you places you wouldn’t get to otherwise”.
She might not be certain about what country is next on the agenda however she is certain about the influence Taratahi has had on her career. “It’s not just the things that I learned there, or the qualifications. It’s the fact that while I was there I realised that farming can really take me places, and give me amazing experiences along the way.”
After I finished studying at Taratahi in 1994, I worked on various sheep and beef farms
for three years, before doing some more tertiary study, followed by other farming jobs and a stint overseas. My passion for deer farming brought me back to the family farm in 2002 where at age 24 I took over the management of the farm. In 2009 I purchased the farm from my parents. I competed in the 2008 Young Farmer of the Year Contest. I made it to the Grand Final and was placed fifth overall. I won the Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust (AGMARDT) Market Innovation Challenge for which I received a scholarship to join the Food and Agribusiness Market Experience (FAME) programme, which included travel to Asia, North America and the UK. Even though I grew up on a farm, Taratahi was exactly the right grounding and start that I needed to cement my path to a successful future in agriculture. It was my year at Taratahi that made me realise there is so much more to running a successful farming business than the day-to-day practical tasks.
I have had a busy career in the agricultural sector since leaving Taratahi. My roles have included working on a poultry farm in Upper Hutt, working on a dairy/sheep farm just south of Eketahuna, spending over 27 years working for PGG Wrightson in a variety of roles and managing Farmlands in Palmerston North.
I am semi-retired now but still help support a number of Farmlands branches when required. It is great to see such a diverse range of subjects from the rural scene being offered to Taratahi students. If it is kept running along similar lines I can see it having a long and successful future.
I would like to tell the students of today to make the most of the opportunities that Taratahi presents to you. The facilities available are fantastic and if you use them to your benefit they will set you up for life. Even if you don’t stay working on the farm, what you learn is worth its weight in gold for a whole range of agricultural career paths.
Sarah Poppleton is originally from Foxton. She graduated from Taratahi in December 2007, coming out with a National Certificate in Agriculture Level 4 (Dairy). Like many Taratahi students, she had secured a position on a farm before she had graduated, which meant a quick transition from study into working life. She shares some of her experiences.
The first job I applied for while I was at Taratahi I got. It was great to get a job so quickly but I think this was also partly because my employer had had students from Taratahi before and his daughter also went to Taratahi. The great thing about coming out of Taratahi is that I had learned so much and really felt prepared for work, especially having done Level 4. Those extra six months really brought together everything I had learned in Levels 2 & 3. The facilities and tutoring at Taratahi are really good. The whole thing was a good experience. And I also made lots of good friends while I was there.
I would definitely recommend going to Taratahi to people who are interested in agriculture. In fact we had a bus load of Massey students visit the farm recently and when their tutor found out I was a Taratahi graduate he was really enthused and asked lots of questions. He hopes that one of his children will attend.
What I really like about Taratahi is that it doesn’t matter whether you are a beginner or not, whether you are a girl or a boy, the staff will give you all the time in the world to learn and develop skills – they’re really supportive.
Sarah is now studying at Massey University for an Agri-Science Degree
Source: Dairy NZ website
I am originally from New Plymouth but I have always had an interest in farming. Taratahi was the perfect place for me to get a grasp on all the basic tenets of farming, both practically and with the theory side of things. I did the Taratahi Certificate in Agriculture, Dairy thenwent on to do my Level 4 advanced certificate. After leaving Taratahi I got a job as a farm assistant on a 400 cow high input dairy farm in Kaponga for 10 months before I started at Massey University. At Massey I did an Agri-Business degree before landing my current job as a Graduate Agribusiness Partner for BNZ, Taranaki.
Taratahi was hugely influential in getting me where I am today. For me, I didn’t really get into education until I went to Taratahi, where I was learning things that I had an interest and passion for. Throughout University I was able to use the practical aspects of my time at Taratahi, and tie it into the theoretical aspects that Massey required. When I applied for the banking graduate jobs I was able to show that I had practical knowledge as well as farm financial management skills, rather than just being an ‘academic’. When I am dealing with clients I can directly relate to them in terms of issues they are experiencing, and helping solve problems they encounter.
I excelled at Taratahi and at graduation in 1981 I received the Leadership and Agriculture Prize.
After graduating, my first position was on a sheep and beef farm in Taumarunui where I continued my studies by correspondence. For the next ten years I moved into shearing or fencing before securing my first Farm Manager position. This position was on a 400 hectare sheep and beef property in Matiere, near Taumarunui. I stayed in this position for five years before moving onto a position on a larger farm, then onto a Stock Manager’s position.
I then leased two properties on the Kawhia coast. While working on these I also went back shearing and fencing for extra cash flow and to help out some of the local contractors. I sold these properties in 2000 and decided to go fencing contracting full-time. I live in Pirongia, Waikato, and manage my own fencing business, Fuller Fencing. I have employed up to three fencers and subcontract when necessary to complete larger jobs. We have taken on work from Northland to Southland and have recently taken on our first modern apprentice. I have been a fencing tutor and provide on job training and assessment throughout the country. I also do field day demonstration work for Wiremark and was on the steering committee forming FCANZ (the Fencing Contractor’s Association of New Zealand). I was the Chairman of this organisation for four years.
My goals for the future are to continue to run a quality contracting business and move more into training and consulting.
I enjoyed how at Taratahi I was amongst different people from different backgrounds, this really broadened my mind and outlook at the time.
I was a city girl from Wellington with no farming experience before going to Taratahi. I heard about the course through my school and thought it would be a faster and more hands on approach to farming than going to university and sitting in a lecture hall. I was completely clueless when it came to farming, so I was like a blank canvas and took in as much as I could. I studied the Taratahi Certificate in Agriculture Level 3 (Dairy) then went on to do the National Certificate in Agriculture Level 4.
I met my future husband at Taratahi (Caleb Burkitt) and when we left Taratahi we went to work together on a farm milking 500 cows in Taranaki. We are now milking 200 cows on Caleb’s uncle’s farm and hoping to go 50/50 sharemilking soon. We have already bought 50 calves and are all set to buy this year’s calves too. Our future goal is to pay off our 50/50 loan then consider further purchases, whether they be land or for farm improvements. Taratahi really helped both of us get to where we are today.
After leaving Taratahi I started work on a 3000 acre property 15 minutes east of Dannevirke as a junior shepherd where I used all the skills I learnt at Taratahi. At the end of my second year I was offered the senior shepherd’s job which I saw as a great opportunity to start climbing the ladder of my farming future. I stayed there for another 2 years until it was time to take on a new challenge.
I moved to Patoka, east of Napier were I worked alongside my boss on a Romney stud. This was a good chance to work with a young energetic person who had just brought the property. I was there for two years and I was able to learn more about the theory side of sheep breeding and I was also put through a farm management course.
I then moved onto a large and well renowned Romney stud on the Napier-Taihape road, to take on the new challenge of Stock Manager. In my two years there I helped the owners expand the operation and then I left to work on a property in another Stock Manager’s position that will set me up to take on a Farm Manager’s position.
While I have been in the Hawke’s Bay, I have been Chairman of the local Young Farmers Club and also Vice Chairman for the East Coast region.
Earl McSweeney studied the Dairy option at Taratahi and left in 1994 with a Merit Pass. For the next six years he worked on a variety of properties before becoming Herd Manager on a dairy conversion in Temuka.
Earl then took a break from dairying and used his agricultural knowledge to sell fertiliser and animal health products to farmers. When he returned to farming he spent a couple of years managing his parents farm before becoming a lower order sharemilker near Ashburton. Whilst there Earl married Melissa and in 2005 their daughter Ella was born. After a period of 50/50 sharemilking they moved on to an equity partnership on a 555 cow conversion at Alford Forest near Methven and in 2007 their son Caden was born.
A fter I finished studying at Taratahi I had several interesting and varied farming jobs. I worked with goats, dairy cows and cattle, went relief milking, and worked as a groom and shepherd on a sports-horse, sheep, and beef farm. I had a few years off the farm whilst the children grew up before re-training to be a Veterinary Nurse. From there I moved on to being one of the first Rural Animal Technicians, which was 10 years ago. Now I’m a lecturer of Veterinary Nursing, Animal Care and Rural Animal Technology for Otago Polytechnic.
I love my job and really do feel that going to Taratahi played a huge part in my journey here. In addition to my Taratahi qualification, I have completed the following: Certificate in Rural Animal Technology, Diploma in Veterinary Nursing, National Certificate in Equine (Community Coach) and a Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Teaching and Learning. Work and family don’t leave me much time for farming, but we have a few acres which I run like I would any farm. I shear my own sheep and do all the fencing and fertiliser calculations, so even now I am using the skills I learnt at Taratahi.
I studied sheep and beef at Taratahi and it was the best year of my life! After leaving I got job on a dairy farm near Palmerston North and after a couple of years I took a break from farming and moved to Wellington and later to Melbourne.
When I came back to New Zealand I got a relief milking job in Martinborough which turned into full time employment on a 1000 cow farm and that is where I met Greg.
Greg started at Taratahi two years after I left and got a Merit on his Dairy course. Five years after leaving he was managing a farm in Eketahuna. The next year we went 25% sharemilking in Kahutara, whilst I worked on a nearby dairy farm. Three years later we went 50/50 sharemilking in Featherston and plan to grow the herd from a starting point of 280 to an eventual total of 400 milkers. In our second season we increased the family to three with the birth of our daughter, Daniella.
Having a love for the outdoors and a desire for working in the farming industry is great, but when you don’t come from a farm it can be difficult getting your first start.
That’s how it was for Andrew O’Connor who hails from Tauranga. “ I used to work on my Uncle’s Dairy Farm during some school holidays but I knew I needed training and I wanted to learn the best way to do things, and not just how my uncle did them." Andrew learnt about Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre and its courses in dairying from a careers expo in the Bay of Plenty. From there he decided to try one of the taster courses that Taratahi run during the school holidays.
After finding the taster course to his liking, Andrew started his year at Taratahi in January 2002, enrolling in the Certificate of Agriculture – Dairying. "The course was everything I hoped it would be, and now I feel I am competent in skills such as fencing, dairy skills, vehicles, maintenance work and even shearing and the killing of sheep for mutton. I also got my Heavy Traffic license during the course, which I know will be beneficial for my future. Socially the year has been excellent too. Living in the hostel has helped me develop good mates that will last a lifetime.
I would recommend the course to anyone who wants to get into the agriculture industry, who likes working outdoors and who wants to make farming their future."
Kelly Hickford went to Inglewood High School in Taranaki. She says “I’ve always enjoyed the farming life style, and when I left school I decided I wanted to work on a farm for 6 months before coming to Taratahi. That way I could earn some money and get a bit more on farm experience. “I could have just stayed on a farm and kept working, but the way I see it, coming to Taratahi helps you to learn the proper way to do things, you get to experience a wide range of farming activities, and it’s bulk learning opposed to experience on farms which can take years to gain the same farming knowledge and skills. Hopefully it will help me to move faster up the farming ranks when I do work in the industry too.”
Because funding was an issue for Kelly, she decided to go on the Internet and search out any scholarships she could apply for, to help her with the costs. “I must have written away to nearly 20 organisations telling them what I was planning to do and asking them for financial assistance. I was really surprised and grateful with the response - I got over $7,000.”
Kelly heard about Taratahi at a careers expo in Taranaki and then decided to do a 4 day taster course in the September holidays. This course resulted in her deciding to attend the full year Dairy Certificate. "Moving all the way to Masterton was a big lifestyle decision and the taster course encouraged me to give the full time course a go. It’s hard being away from family and friends, but it’s good fun and a great experience and will be well worth it at the end. I loved the taster course that much that I decided there and then I wanted to do the full time course.”
When asked what the best parts of the course were for her, she says, “I’ve met heaps of nice people who have the same interests as me, which is a real bonus. The staff are really good and take time to teach you the right way to do things. Hanging gates, fencing, driving/riding skills and welding have all been excellent, and it’s very rewarding learning new skills that will help me work towards a great career.”
Page last updated on: 16-04-2013