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Hyundai Country Calendar


Episode 5: Boys to Men

Originally screened March 21 at 7pm on TV ONE:

Two generations ago, Gisborne's Waipaoa Station was one the country's largest, till it was carved up for forestry.

But now the station is nurturing a very different agricultural resource, as it turns out a new generation of young, expertly trained farmers.

Station owner Rob Telfer has set up a training scheme to turn school-leavers into knowledgeable and useful farm staff - and Country Calendar paid them a visit just as his first candidates were graduating.

The historic station was once a massive 8500 hectares.  When Rob and his family took over in 2002, only 1600 ha remained, but it still had the original homestead, plus eight other houses, two wool sheds and dozens of other buildings.

Telfer had heard grumblings in the sheep and beef industry about the lack of well-trained workers and he saw his chance to do something about it.  He struck on the idea of using the facilities for a two-year residential training course.

The course takes just five new trainees each year, so choosing them is a challenge for the trust board.

"We prefer them still at school when we select them," Rob says.  "That way they're still in learning mode, and haven't learnt any bad habits that we have to knock out of them."

One of the key philosophies is: "Do it once, do it right".  It's a mantra you'll hear often on the station.  When the cadets first learned fencing, they dug post-holes three or four times till their tutor was happy the posts were straight.

And the "no shortcuts" approach has shown great results.  Last October the cadets plied their trades at the Gisborne A & P Show against many seasoned campaigners.  The Waipaoa cadets won the novice shearing and the gate swinging contests, and reached four finals in the dog trials.

By training the next generation, Rob feels they're not only helping the sheep and beef industry, but returning something to the larger community too.

"Every station used to have a young guy - a cowboy they used to call them," he says.

"He started off with one dog, got all the rubbish jobs and slowly learnt off the others.

"But people don't tend to take a young guy on nowadays, as a way of cutting costs back.  So we're trying to do something about it."

Other sites to view:

Recent news stories about Waipaoa cadet school at the Gisborne Herald and Country Wide.

To e-mail the Waipaoa Training Trust,