Rural delivery for James Kelly and Hamish Grigg

06 Sep 2022

James Kelly is following in his farmer father’s footsteps, having gained a select spot at the Smedley Station and Cadet Training Farm in Hawke’s Bay.

Along with Year 13 student – and fellow boarder – Hamish Grigg, James will start a fully funded, two-year agricultural cadetship in January next year.

While a few previous students have won positions at the popular training site, rarely have two College boys gained entry to the course for the same year. Adding to that impressive achievement by both boys, James is in Year 12.

With just 13 trainees accepted annually, students must be dedicated to understanding and learning farming skills and techniques to grow their own successful rural careers.

For James, 17, gaining the cadetship is “a dream come true”.

“My father was a cadet at Smedley Station, so this means a lot to me,” he says. “I have always wanted to pursue farming as a career and this is the first big step.

“I have grown up on a farm in North Canterbury, and want to specialise in hill country sheep and beef, so Smedley is the perfect fit. My parents are extremely proud of my selection and, being a boarder, I am well prepared for living away from home. I hope to one day get into farm management and secure a senior role on a hill country station.

“Smedley offers an assured two years of work by covering – in the first year – the basics that every farmer needs to succeed. In the second year, we cover more stock-oriented work and you are virtually guaranteed a job because of the reputation of the station.”

Hamish 17, describes the Smedley Station course as a “role model programme for developing and nurturing future farmers”.

“You learn from the best in the industry at Smedley Station. This is an incredible opportunity to learn at a place like this, and be part of such a renowned programme,” he says.

“I am so happy that I got the chance. I am from a farm in Marlborough and plan to work on a hill country station. Smedley offers the best opportunity to prepare me for that life and help me develop my own skills.

“It certainly gives us a big head start in the industry and offers many ways to make the right connections for future success.”

Both boys explain that the Smedley Station application process has been quite intense, having written a cover letter that details why they want the opportunity and their personal values. They have also had to provide four references – two from farmers and two from teachers. With about 100 applicants annually, Smedley whittles down the numbers to interview 40 young people – with only 13 making the final cut.

The accredited farming course has provided hands-on agriculture skills training for some of New Zealand’s finest future farmers for more than 90 years. A commercial farm and held in trust for the Crown, Smedley Station runs sheep, cattle, and deer. Launched in 1931, the cadetship programme has successfully supported more than 600 young farmers, with funding covering all on-farm food and accommodation.