Reconnection and innovation key at East Coast Farming Expo

Agri-innovators, top-flight speakers, and two full days of networking are the promise of the 2024 East Coast Farming Expo


The two-day event (21 and 22 February) is hosted at the Wairoa Race Course and aimed at East Coast sheep and beef farmers. It’s touted as a chance to fill one’s cup with a focus on reconnection, education, and a chance to speak to some of the nation’s best. 

The expo is known for its quality of speakers and 2024 is no different. Included in the line-up is television personality and mental wellbeing exponent Matt Chisholm alongside the former head of analytics for the NZX Julia Jones, Craigs Investment Partners investment adviser Fleur Gardiner, Lincoln University adjunct professor Dr Jaquelin Rowarth, and John Roche, the chief science advisor at Ministry for Primary Industries. 

All are excited to be back in the rural sector sharing their knowledge and reconnecting with people. 

Award-winning journo Hamish McKay is the keynote speaker at the Property Brokers Evening Muster. He says he’s happy to help bridge the rural-urban divide by asking those thought-provoking questions that both inform and educate urban listeners. 

Doug the Digger from Northland will also be at the Expo, so any would-be excavator drivers can try their hand. In the wellbeing space, Craig ‘Wiggy’ Wiggins has his team offering rural wellness check-ups from the Carr Family Foundation van, and he will be there to chat with one and all. 

The FMG Spot Check Roadie is cruising in as well with partners Melanoma New Zealand for skin checks and handing out life-saving information. 

Event organiser Sue Wilson says post-Cyclone Gabrielle, farmers are keen to get together and reconnect.  

"Last year was a tough one for farmers," she says. "It’s a chance for them to get off farm, meet agri-innovators, see what opportunities are out there to help with their businesses, and catch up with other farmers from across the region." 

The Expo is deliberately held mid-week so farmers can spend a day off farm working on their businesses without losing the weekend. 

This year there are two new initiatives — the Rural News Cadet Challenge and the Beef+Lamb NZ Station Challenge, which while include plenty of fun and highlight the importance of teamwork. 

"Many of the younger shepherds and shepherdesses' experience so far has been more hands-on farm work, and the Expo is a chance to introduce them to so many other aspects of farming. All farmers should think of it as a team-building day working on your business." 

There will also be working dog demos from highly regarded trainer and triallist Guy Peacock. 

The trade is a huge component of the Expo and includes agricultural drone spraying, the latest technology from Gallagher, examples of limitless rotational grazing for the dairy and beef industries, advice on how to unlock precision pasture management, and Halter guidance on a drive to more profitable farms. 

"Farmers will hear the facts that are backed by the science," says Wilson. "The past couple of years of extreme weather have been very challenging for us all, and this is an opportunity to talk to people who can help them build back to smarter. It’s all about innovation. The support from trade this year has been fantastic and has attracted such a diverse range of agri-business. They see the value of face-to-face connections." 

When the 2023 Expo was cancelled due to the cyclone, the Wairoa Community Development Trust, who put on the Expo, the small team switched into action mode running 16 Back Yard BBQs to connect and check in with the rural communities around the region. 

Some of the trade exhibitors kindly left in their fees and sponsorship from the cancelled 2023 Expo to support the rural communities through the BBQs. Wilson extended a huge thanks to those businesses who had happily left their money to support those hit so hard by the adverse weather conditions, and they will be recognised during the Expo. 

The East Coast Farming Expo will be held on 21 and 22 February 2024 at Wairoa Race Course. For more information, 

Keep up to date in the industry by signing up to Farm Trader's free newsletter or liking us on Facebook