The woman leading the success of Central Districts Field Days is undoubtedly Cheryl Riddell.
Field days are held on the properties of each of the three finalists in the competition and are the second part of the judging process. The judges meet with the finalists the day before, and on the following day farmers and others in agribusiness attend the onfarm field days to see first-hand the nature of the properties and why they are selected as finalists.
Mangaroa Station is a 1506ha (1250 effective ) sheep and beef property in the Ruakituri Valley, owned by Nuku and Bart Hadfield. The land is rolling to steep hill country with no flat area, rising to 620m above sea level. The property winters 12,665 SU, with a 62/38 sheep to cattle ratio.
The field day started with a powhiri at the nearby Erepeti marae and then visitors drove a couple of kilometres up to the main woolshed on the property; for a presentation by the owners, Nuku and Bart Hadfield. Their impressive story on how they and their whanau acquired Mangaroa Station and used this as a stepping stone for other members to buy their own properties drew much praise from the attendees.
After lunch came a tour of the property and a first-hand look at how the Hadfields and their family have developed this hill country property.
The judges who selected Mangaroa as a finalist said they were impressed with the clear vision and core planning the Hadfields displayed to achieve their costs. They were also impressed by Mangaroa performing above average for this type of hill country farm and that its lambing percentage – 141% – is high for a property of this type.
Bart Hadfield says the field day exceeded expectations. He admitted to being nervous at the start. “But Nuku came out and got our story across brilliantly and we were well received by the crowd. That made us feel much more comfortable and it turned out to be an enjoyable day.”
She admits, initially, that the idea of speaking to a large group was quite daunting. “But once you get up and start speaking for a minute or two – and you clear your throat and stuff like that – it started rolling along nicely and I felt quite comfortable.”
Bart says it was a mind blowing experience and they learned a lot and enjoyed the process. They are attending the field days of the other finalists and all will gather in Whanganui for the announcement of the winner on May 29.