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Nail-biting finish for Peter

Nail-biting finish for Peter
Peter O'Connor (left) claimed second in the FMG Young Farmer of the Year contest, behind first place winner Emma Poole. Otago-Southland representative Hugh Jackson took third place. PHOTO SUPPLIED

It was a nail-biting finish for Mid Canterbury at the FMG Young Farmer of the Year contest, with local Pendarves club Peter O'Connor coming in second.

He missed taking out the title by a small margin to Waikato Bay of Plenty farmer Emma Poole.

Otago-Southland representative Hugh Jackson took third place.

The announcement was made at the grand final event held at the Southern Trust Events Centre in Timaru on Saturday night.

O'Connor, who took home the Agri-Skills and Agri-knowledge challenges as well as the runner-up placing, was pleased with his achievements.

"It's a great feeling to be awarded second place," O'Connor said.

"It's been a challenging couple of days, and we've really been put through our paces."

For O'Connor, his favourite part of the competition was the Agri-sports challenge, which included a tractor race as part of the practical day held at the Winchester showgrounds on Friday.

The practical day was one of three days of challenges in which the seven finalists were tested on farming skills, general knowledge and tasks such as repairing farm machinery and creating a hydroponic system.

Points were awarded for skill and speed, with 600 spectators cheering for their region's representative.

"I'm pretty sore from that event; it was a long day.

"But it was great to finish the Agri-sports and come first over the line with that."

O'Connor, who was also awarded Dairy Trainee of the Year at the 2022 Dairy Industry Awards, says he intends to enter the competition again but may take a year or so off to regroup.

"It's been quite a big workload over the last couple of months, so I'm looking forward to just chilling out."

The Mt Somers Springburn School AgrikidsNZ team, Legendairy, took out the title of AgrikidsNZ Grand Champions.

After tackling a range of gruelling challenges, modules and pitting their knowledge against other teams in the Agriquiz, Flynn Wallace, Charlie Clark, and Georgia Heaven racked up the most points to secure the win.

"It's awesome that all the effort we have put in has paid off," Charlie said.

"I think it's fair to say we're all feeling pretty happy with the win."

Mt Hutt College also did Mid Canterbury proud, with duo Jack Foster and James Clark competing against 13 other teams from across the country to gain third place in the FMG Junior Young Farmers of the Year.

This year's event is one for the history books, with the FMG Young Farmer of the Year title being awarded to a woman for the first time in the event's history.

Title winner Emma Poole, who was also a grand finalist in 2019, described the historic win as "knocking the grass ceiling off the roof."

"There is a long chain of women that have worked really hard to display the important role we play in agriculture," Poole said.

"All those women have given me the confidence to stand up and give it a go."

Poole takes the title from her brother, mentor and last season's FMG Young Farmer of the Year, Tim Dangen.

By Claire Inkson