East Coast Farming Expo hits all the right notes

East Coast Farming Expo provides two days where visitors can connect with old mates, suppliers, and businesses and learn the latest across all aspects of sheep and beef farming

The Beef + Lamb NZ Station Challenge was popular with spectators

Nearly 900 people came through the gates at the Wairoa Racecourse over the two days, all keen to see new products, hear about the latest research, watch the leaders of tomorrow in action, and listen to inspiring, informed speakers.

“The Wairoa Community Development Trust who own the event, have focused on connecting rural communities during the past couple of years, and we definitely ticked that box,” says Sue.

“There’s so much value in getting everyone together like this. It’s two days off the farm where they can just connect with old mates, suppliers, and businesses and learn about the latest across all aspects of sheep and beef farming.”

Keynote speaker Matt Chisholm engaging an attentive crowd at the East Coast Farming Expo

The two challenges had proved winners for participants and spectators alike, the Growing Future Farmers rode off with the Rural News Cadet Challenge, which was styled on a rustic Master Chef-esque competition.

The Beef+Lamb New Zealand Station Challenge was won by Whakaki Block team who excelled in their drafting of 10 sheep, condition scoring, setting up the Gallagher weigh unit, weighing, and crutching tasks.

The rolling seminars were popular, with keynote speaker Matt Chisholm again fully engaging an attentive crowd. Long-time journalist Hamish McKay who spoke at the sell-out Property Brokers Muster connected with the crowd, talking about rural issues, his role in media, and with plenty of great banter.

Shannon Station preparing for the Beef + Lamb NZ Station Challenge

“Hamish was punchy pithy and to the point,” says Sue.

Other speakers included Hereheretau Station’s shepherds Brody Taylor, Jack Leef, and Will Collier with manager Dick Finnie who gave valuable insight into the team culture at the 2022 Ahuwhenua Trophy finalist’s operation. The chat was held just before the station challenge so attracted plenty of shepherds and employers.

Farm management advisor Hilton Collier was engaging while Julia Jones brought her breath of fresh air to the podium in the AGMARDT Seminar Marquee.

“She’s always one to think about the positives,” says Sue.

Winners of the Beef + Lamb NZ Station Challenge, Whakaki Block from left: Brent Gallagher, George Geary, Kingi Winiata with Mark Harris, Beef + Lamb NZ senior extension manager

Georgia Massie, territory manager for Agricom, talked about different pasture options to revegetate damaged pastures, which was filled with useful information for East Coast hill country farmers. Long-time supporter of the Expo, Lincoln University adjunct professor Dr Jacqueline Rowarth, delivered her usual powerful message, connecting with the audience.

Trade sites were at a record high, with a number already committing to the 2025 Expo.

“We have had so much incredible feedback,” says Sue. “People have gone away feeling happy and energised after meeting with industry partners and existing and potential clients and saying how much they themselves have gotten out of the Expo. It’s great to hear.”  

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Photography: Kirsten Simcox Photography

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