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Former townie at the top of his game
Peter Wilson, 20, has won Waipaoa Station’s senior top cadet award for 2015. Photo: Waipaoa Station

Former townie at the top of his game

Peter Wilson always knew he wanted to go farming because of his love of the outdoors, animals and action. He just wasn’t sure how he’d go about it.

The 20-year-old former townie hails from Rotorua. His parents weren’t involved in agriculture – his father is a family photographer – but they’ve been supportive of his passion.

So when a careers adviser at his high school, St Peter’s in Cambridge, suggested a stint at Waipaoa Station could be just the ticket, off he went.

He thrived at Waipaoa and, after a two-year agricultural training programme, graduated as 2015’s senior top cadet.

The 1730ha (effective) East Coast station accepts just five cadets a year. Peter had the chance to develop extensive practical skills as well get a handle on the business side of farming.

“It was a pretty different adjustment trying to get your head around not being five minutes from a shop, not even being an hour away – and the daily dependence on dogs and horses – but that’s what was great,” Peter said.

Trainees are instructed through the farming cycles: drenching lambs, scanning the Angus Hereford-cross cows, and shearing or fencing as the season requires.

They get to break-in a horse and train a heading pup as well. While most learning is hands-on, book work features too – cadets must earn their NCEA Level 4 in Agriculture.

Peter is modest about his prize-winning – he doesn’t mention he also scooped up the senior hostel, top dog and stockmanship awards. He reckons the most important thing his time at Waipaoa gave him was “confidence”.

Now he works as a shepherd on Mangapoike Station near Gisbourne and struggles to think of farming tasks he doesn’t find a pleasure.

“With the good jobs come the bad ones. Or rather, the ones you like a bit less – um, dagging?”

While his interests lie “pretty much 100% around farming” these days, Peter also enjoys playing rugby, watching community horse sports and dog trials, plus a bit of photography.

Becoming a head shepherd on a sheep and beef outfit, preferably somewhere not too chilly is his goal.

“I just want to go forward, continue learning and build my way up the chain.”