Event report: Fieldays 2024

Swarms of visitors flocked to Mystery Creek Events Centre for the 56th Fieldays® — a four-day showcase of agricultural trade, innovations, and entertainment

The event officially opened with a pōwhiri and the raising of flags, followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by New Zealand National Fieldays Society’s chair, Jenni Vernon, agriculture and trade minister Todd McClay, and Tumuaki o te Kiingitanga Hone Thompson.

The ceremony was attended by representatives of Ngāti Hauā, minister for rural communities Mark Patterson, and minister for biosecurity and food safety Andrew Hoggard.

Commenting at the opening ceremony, Peter Nation, New Zealand National Fieldays Society chief executive said he was thrilled to welcome everyone to Fieldays — an event that stands as a testament to the industry as well as Fieldays partners, exhibitors, and visitors.

“We are seeing a good indication of people travelling from around the regions, reflecting our importance as a nationally and globally significant event,” says Peter.

With more than 1100 exhibitors, the event featured a diverse array of offerings, from innovative agricultural machinery to cutting-edge technology, artisan food, new-to-the-market vehicles, financial and insurance products and services, and everything in between.

The first day saw several exhibitors release new technologies, including clothing manufacturer Stoney Creek, which launched its 100% percent New Zealand Wool range.

Stoney Creek is challenging New Zealand’s wool and apparel manufacturers to be more transparent with their products, naming conventions, and manufacturing processes. The wool has been sourced from Quartz Hill Station, along with local farms in Canterbury, Central Otago, and Marlborough.

“Coming from a rural background, for me, it’s feeling the responsibility to do it and having a go at doing it our way,” says Brent McConnell, owner and CEO of Stoney Creek.

“It is important to view Fieldays beyond the four days and the meaningful connections that are made that can’t be calculated. Conversations that happen over a handshake or coffee sometimes plant the seed for significant business opportunities,” says Peter.

Prime minister Christopher Luxton addressed some of the industry’s challenges at the Fieldays Primary Leaders Luncheon attended by more than 100 guests.

He acknowledged the frustrations around rural banking, including high interest rates and the difficulty in securing lending, and announced a Government inquiry into the issues.

The luncheon was also an opportunity for Fieldays to announce they’re now backed by the coveted New Zealand Story’s FernMark Licence Programme.

Industry leaders also gathered for the official opening of the Rural Advocacy Hub, a collaboration between Fieldays and Federated Farmers. The Hub aims to foster dialogue around sector challenges, such as banking, emissions, methane targets, and freshwater rules.

Agriculture and trade minister Todd McClay highlighted the need for a united voice from places such as the Rural Advocacy Hub to inform practical Government decisions.

Federated Farmers president Wayne Langford says they were surprised by the number of farmers who had already come through the Hub on the first day alone.

“We are proud to provide a platform and opportunity for farmers to be heard. We’re having some really organic conversations, and we have seen a variety of people from all spectrums of the rural sector.”

The Hub includes Groundswell, Young Farmers, Rural Women, Future Farmers NZ, Food & Fibre Youth Network, Farmers Weekly, Ethical Employers, and the Fencing Contractors Association NZ.

New features at this year’s event included the Fieldays Business Lounge, developed to enhance the experience of business leaders while they are on-site, and the Family Activation Zone with activities for kids, such as axe throwing, rock climbing, safari train, and an adventure obstacle course. All activities were free, with an option to donate to the Rural Support Trust.

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