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NZ Veterans Get A Taste Of Farming At Taratahi

An idea born in 1919 has been carried forward by Taratahi once again. When Sir William Perry gifted a piece of land for the training of servicemen returning from World War I, little did he know that 101 years later, Taratahi would be proudly welcoming New Zealand veterans once again.

Partnering with Ministry of Primary Industries, UCOL staff at Taratahi hosted New Zealand veterans on a week-long Taster workshop. Each day offered them insights into what could be their next career option.

“The group included veterans from the Navy, Army, and Air Force Army, so as you can imagine, it led to a huge amount of light-hearted banter between them all!” says Simon Bailey, UCOL Team Leader – Primary Industries.

The veteran group started off at the training centre, where their first few days were filled with a range of farming activities – from milking cattle to fixing fences.

“They are probably not going to look at the fence the same way ever again,” adds Bailey, after a session on how to tie off and strain a fence wire correctly.

The lessons continued on to cover farming vehicles such as tractors, frontend loaders, quad bikes, and light utility vehicles (LUV). The group was taken through safety, maintenance, and pre-start checks as well as advice on how to drive them on various terrain.

Not all jobs on the farm are quite as much fun, but the hard-working group also spent some time learning how to dag sheep at Glenside.

“There’s a pretty amazing view up the top of the farm which the group were lucky enough to see, you get the whole vista of the Wairarapa Valley stretching out in front of you, from Mt Bruce in the north to Ocean Beach in the south, simply stunning on a good day,” says Bailey.

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The final day was spent introducing the group to the basics of apiculture (beekeeping).

“This has been a hugely successful opportunity for both veterans and our team at Taratahi. They got to share experiences from both a farming and military perspective, which led to a newfound respect for each other. It is always great when everyone learns something new. It has also shown how our training farm can help veterans, in exactly the spirit it was originally intended for,” says Bailey.

Veterans Affairs Project Advisor Brett Te Wheoro was also very pleased with the week’s results.

“We had a mix of veterans of all ages, representing service from as far back as Malaya to recent deployments to Afghanistan,” says Te Wheoro.

“There was something for everybody and the ‘taster’ aspect of the course meant that we got to try out different types of farming and a range of new skills.

“A few of the veterans are already keen to come back for the longer beekeeping course. We really appreciated that this course was put on for us - the staff at Taratahi went out of their way during our time there. A big thanks to the Ministry of Primary Industries and UCOL for making this pilot course possible.”

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