Lamb prices look set to bottom out just below $7/kg as the end of the season nears, according to ASB senior rural economist Nathan Penny.
Under the terms of the agreement, ASB will continue to lease the land to the school for an effective 99 year term with a nominal annual rent of one dollar. As part of this renewed partnership, the facility will be known as the ASB Farm at Mt Albert Grammar School.
The farm was established in 1932, requiring the passing of special legislation to allow the Auckland Savings Bank to buy the land from the Kerr-Taylor sisters and then lease it back to the school. The Bank made a grant of 2000 pounds: 1600 pounds to enable 20 acres of the Alberton estate to be bought outright, with the balance to provide equipment for the farm.
"The ASB Farm is one of the last remaining reminders of central Auckland's rich agricultural heritage," says Linley Wood, ASB's executive general manager, culture & community. "Over the past 80 years, the school has provided quality education for generations of rural students, teaching them the fundamentals of farming and helping them to prepare for a career in New Zealand's primary industry.
"Thousands of people, from pre-schoolers to senior citizens, have visited the farm, learning a little about rural life and being introduced to farm-based experiences that have become so much more inaccessible to city dwellers over the years. These popular visits have provided urban children with the opportunity to experience a real working farm and at the same time, gain a better understanding of rural life in New Zealand."
"Through this long-term lease renewal ASB hopes to secure the future of this unique farm for all Aucklanders and, in doing so, continue the legacy of those visionaries who first saw the need for a quality agricultural teaching facility in New Zealand's largest city," says Wood.
Dale Burden, Mt Albert Grammar School's headmaster acknowledges the importance of the farm in the life of the school and surrounding community. "In the early years, the programme provided skills for employment in rural farming positions for boys.
However, in recent years, there has been a shift towards a more academic curriculum and while recent graduates continue to find employment in the rural sector, others have been admitted to tertiary programmes such as Bachelor of Veterinary Science, and Diplomas of Agriculture and Horticulture. This is testament to the value of our unique ability to provide a rural-based programme of learning to city-born and -bred students in the heart of Auckland."
As another demonstration of ASB's commitment to the community, the Bank announced that it is establishing a rural scholarship to be awarded to a student to board at Mt Albert Grammar School and participate in the school's agricultural programme.
Burden says the scholarship "cements our ongoing positive relationship with the ASB bank. We are grateful for their generosity in providing such a great opportunity for one of our students."
Greg Moyle, chairman of the Mount Albert Board of Trustees says, "This is the start of a new era for the study of agriculture and horticulture at Mt Albert Grammar."
"The agreement that we celebrate today acknowledges a partnership that began 80 years ago that will now continue for another 99 years. We look forward to continuing to work with the ASB to offer students at MAGS a unique learning experience not available at any other secondary school in a metropolitan area in New Zealand."