Coast Flavour To Grand Final Of The Young Farmer Of The Year

Published date01 May 2023
Publication titleWest Coast Farming Times, The
Peter, 25, a farm manager in Ashburton, will be representing Aorangi after four attempts at winning the regionals to earn his place in a grand final

Brother Nick, 20, a third year Lincoln University agricultural science honours student, won his regional final on his first try.

The pair are sons of Kate and Johno O'Connor who own two dairy farms south of Westport, at Virgin Flat and Wilsons Lead Road.

Their uncle, West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O'Connor, is the Minister of Primary Industries. In a recent radio interview, and in answer to the question of whether his nephews 'get in your ear' about farming decisions made, Mr O'Connor diplomatically replied there were "healthy discussions!" Nick won the Tasman region final after completing the practical section at the Amuri Showgrounds and the 'quiz night' at Hanmer on April 1.

Peter won his Aorangi nomination at Ashburton on April 15.

"I went to Peter's practical day and he looked pretty sharp!" Nick said.

"I've always been practically minded and managing the 400-cow dairy farm means I'm doing it day to day. Nick is still at uni so he may not be quite so practical at this stage," Peter said.

"It is going to be good fun taking part.

To be fair, I haven't started doing any work for it yet. They have piled us up with university assignments over our break.

I guess that is study in itself. I have also been working for a few weeks on a 700-cow dairy farm in Hinds which has been quite a contrast to the family farm. That has put my learning about dairy farming at uni into practice too," Nick said.

"I'm very excited and looking forward to it. I know I've got a lot of prep to do.

They've given us 1000 questions from past competitions and some of those will always come up," Peter said.

"It will add another side to the competition being up against Nick.

Obviously, I don't want to be beaten by my younger brother! But it is pretty special that we are both taking part," Peter said.

"We actually want each other to do as well as possible and we'd be happy to see the other on the podium," Peter said.

Despite his young age, Nick is no beginner when it comes to farming competitions. He and St Bede's College mate Angus Grant, won the national Teen Ag event in 2018 which is now called the Junior Young Farmer of the Year. Peter, competing a few years earlier, was placed sixth.

However, last year Peter won the National NZ Dairy Industries Trainee of the Year. He had also been a Dairy NZ Scholar while completing his agricultural...

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