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Matt Bell wins 2015 ANZ Young Farmer Contest

Matt Bell wins 2015 ANZ Young Farmer Contest

After a nail-biting finish Matt Bell of Aorangi is the 2015 ANZ Young Farmer Contest Champion.

"This is the most surreal feeling, all the hard work has paid off. The blood, sweat and tears – it was all worth it! It’s somewhat of a dream at the moment” said Mr Bell.

Competition in the 47th ANZ Young Farmer Contest was fierce, with the Evening Show rounds resulting in a tie between East Coast’s Sully Alsop and Aorangi’s Matt Bell. Matt Bell won on a count-back of Practical Day scores.

Matt is in his first season of an equity manager’s role alongside his fiancé Samantha. This was Matt’s second Grand Final, he placed 3rd in the 2013 Grand Final held in Auckland. This was Matt’s last shot at the title as competitors are only able to compete at Grand Final level twice. The other two seasoned competitors, Sully Alsop and local hero Dwayne Cowin, were also in money.

Second place went to Sully Alsop who won the AGMARDT Agri-Business Challenge and the Lincoln University Agri-Growth Challenge. Third place went to Waikato/Bay of Plenty’s Dwayne Cowin who also won the Ravensdown Agri-Skills Challenge and the Silver Fern Farms Agri-Sports Challenge.

Matt Bell also took home the Meridian Agri-Knowledge Challenge.

The ANZ Young Farmer Contest stretches competitor's mental dexterity, physical stamina and showcases the sophistication of modern farming.

Today's farmer not only has to be well versed in all modern farming practices but needs to be an accountant, meteorologist, economist, marketing executive, HR specialist and much more.

The seven Grand Finalists were put through their paces over three days of competition in Taupo 2-4 July.

The events opened on Thursday at the Yacht Club, Lake front Taupo with a shearing Head-to-Head Challenge where competitors were to shear two sheep in front of the crowd.

The Practical Day events were held Friday on Taupo’s Tongariro domain, which saw contestants demonstrating skills such as tree felling, engineering, assembling irrigation systems and maintaining a miniature farm.

In the technical elements of the competition contestants had to present a business plan, go through a panel interview and work out an HR scenario.

After the practical events, contestants were given several hours to prepare a three minute speech and deliver it at the ANZ Sponsors and Speeches Dinner held at the Great Lake Centre, Taupo.

Come Saturday night at Taupo Events Centre it was neck and neck for the Evening Show as contestants battled through the final hurdle of quick-fire question rounds. It was an extremely close quiz show with the audience on the edge of their seats as Sully Alsop and Matt Bell were announced in a tie. Upon count-back Matt was announced the 2015 ANZ Young Farmer Contest.

The twenty-eight year old contract-milker took first place at the Aorangi Regional Final in Oamaru on Saturday 28 February. Matt works as Business Manager for Align Longfield. In peak season the fully irrigated Mid-Canterbury farm will run 1080 cows. This is Matt’s first year in the business and in the next year he and his fiancé will become equity managers in their bid to become farm owners.

“To be wearing the cloak of knowledge is just surreal, my name on that trophy has been my goal for years now and it’s a dream come true.”

Mr Bell is an active member of the Hinds Young Farmers Club. He says he looks forward to the opportunities winning the Contest will now offer “One of the things I am looking forward to is being able to go into schools and communities and have the profile as well as the influence to help change the perception of agriculture. Our industry is the backbone of New Zealand, it’s time that was realised.”

He also thanked the Contest’s family of ten sponsors as well as his supporters who travelled from mid-Canterbury to watch him compete.

The winner went home with nearly $75,000 in prizes including $10,000 cash from ANZ, entrance to Kellogg's Rural Leadership Programme from Lincoln University valued at $6,000, Ravensdown and C-Dax products worth $7,000, a $2,000 AGMARDT scholarship towards a career development, a gourmet BBQ and farm technology package from Silver Fern Farms and FarmIQ worth $10,000, a Honda ATV and generator worth $19,700, Husqvarna power equipment worth $7,000 and Vodafone products and services to the value of $7,000 and a Meridian Energy electricity voucher to the value of $3000.


1. Matt Bell, Aorangi

2. Sully Alsop, East Coast

3. Dwayne Cowin, Waikato/Bay of Plenty

4. James Hoban, Tasman

5. Pete Fitz-Herbert, Taranaki/Manawatu

6. Steve Henderson, Otago/Southland

7. Douglas McGregor, Northern


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