2020 FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year Winners Announced

Posted by Erin Speedy on 19 June 2020 | Comments

A talented pair from Canterbury have taken out 2020 FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year title. 

Jack Coakley and Mac Williams from St Bede’s College were crowned the winners after a week’s worth of challenges.

“It was an incredible result, we put a lot of hard work in this week so to come out with the result we got was an incredible feeling,” says Jack.

The pair entered Friday morning in 5th Place and Mac says they tried their hardest throughout the day.

“It’s really rewarding to be able to compare your skills to others around the country, and prove to yourself what you can do when you put your mind to it and take your passion to the next level.”

Guy Von Dadelszen and Tristin Peeti- Webber from Napier Boys’ High School came in second. Northern cousin duo Nick and Zoe Harrison from Okaihau College were awarded third.

Nicole Wakefield-Hart and Hannah White from Geraldine High School took out the FMG People’s Choice Award with their special video.

Three South Island FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year Regional Finals and the Grand Final were all forced to either be cancelled or moved online when Government restrictions around events started coming into place in March.

New Zealand Young Farmers CEO Lynda Coppersmith says the quick decision was made, to move everything online and deliver a contest for Teen Ag members, alongside the AgriKids contest for primary school children.

Organising to host the event online for the first time, she says, created some new challenges to work through.

“Working with two contests, 35 teams, 12 sponsors, 14 modules as well as all the other tasks was a huge logistical undertaking. It took a lot of things to fall in to place, a lot of people to make it work and a really strict time frame,” she says.

“The Events team has done the most amazing job to pull this off and I cannot thank them enough, along with our Sponsor family and volunteers for all the hard work they all have put in to make both events happen and run seamlessly, albeit a few very minor tech hiccups during the Face Off which provided a few laughs.”

The FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final started on Saturday 13th June, where the two teams in each region, went head to head creating a tumble composter from a barrel for the farmlet challenge.

The lifting of Alert Levels and restrictions allowed this to go ahead, with help from Young Farmers volunteers who hosted and judged the regional challenges.

Speech topics were handed out during the week and innovation projects were handed in on Wednesday, before the big Grand Final day on Friday.

The 14 teams presented their speeches, undertook an exam and competed in a series of modules.

These included soil science based modules, animal welfare, environment and farm planning, identifying risks with WorkSafe, studying the Future of Farming report and developing biosecurity plans for farms.

The speech topic was based around carbon emissions and water quality relating to food production in New Zealand and in the Innovation Project, teams had to produce a business plan and five minute marketing presentation on how they would develop and diversify a 250ha property in the current COVID-19 local market.

“The farmlet was pretty hard, we got a different set of equipment compared to others but it was alright in the end, we found that very, very tough,” Mac says.  

He enjoyed the innovation project, saying it wasn’t things you’d usually get to do as a teenager.

They broke the 250ha farm down into 40ha of sheep milking 170ha of lamb finishing and 15ha of market garden.

“We came up with an idea of producing and selling our own meat for value add, an abattoir and our own sheep milking processes,” he says.

“We learnt a lot actually, the biosecurity module made me think a bit more and I managed to use a farm that I work on as a base for it.”

The pair thought the hardest part of the week was the preparation and also time management. 

“We put so much work into it to try and make sure we got top marks for everything - that was the hardest part about it; the work we had to put in,” Jack says.

“I thought online was actually a really cool way of doing it, it was super smoothly run so we didn’t have any difficulties with any technological issues and it was different to how it was run in previous years which made it really exciting and new.”

Lynda Coppersmith says nothing can replace the excitement and atmosphere of a physical contest but it was still a very exciting Grand Final with everything live streamed online.

“We are very thrilled we were able to reformat parts of the contest to be able to deliver some champions for 2020.”

After finishing school, Mac plans to head to Massey University to study veterinary, meanwhile Jack wants to head further south to Lincoln University and is currently tossing up what agricultural based degree to study.

The FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year contest is made possible by the support of FMG, Ravensdown, Honda, WorkSafe, PTS, STIHL, Lincoln University, Massey University, Southfuels/Northfuels, Betacraft, MPI and New Holland. 



1ST Mac & Jack – Mac Williams and Jack Coakley, St Bede’s College.

2ND Von D & Triddy – Guy Von Dadelszen and Tristin Peeti-Webber, Napier Boys’ High School.

3RD Cuzzies – Nick and Zoe Harrison, Okaihau College FMG People’s Choice Award