Waihaorunga shepherd Alex Reekers will compete in the World
Young Shepherds Challenge later this year. Photo supplied.
Come September it will be ''au revoir Waihaorunga'' and
''bonjour France'' for young South Canterbury shepherd Alex
Mr Reekers (23), a member of the Glenavy Young Farmers Club,
and Mitchel Hoare (19), of Te Kuiti Young Farmers Club, will
represent New Zealand at the final of the World Young
Shepherds Challenge in Auvergne, France, in September.
The pair earned the top scores in the preliminary round of
the challenge, held alongside the ANZ Young Farmer Contest
grand final at Lincoln.
Mr Reekers was encouraged to enter by his boss and his
neighbours. The eight contestants were evaluated on their
practical skills, along with their knowledge and
understanding of issues affecting the sheep industry.
They completed a written examination, a panel interview and
practical challenges which included sheep shearing,
negotiating a quad bike obstacle course, foot trimming and
The practical skills tested were ''pretty basic'' - ''it was
like stuff you do on a day-to-day basis'' - but all the
contestants seemed to do well, so he was unsure how he fared.
Mr Reekers acknowledged he would be studying hard before
heading to France.
He and Mr Hoare will compete against other young shepherds
from England, Australia, Argentina, France, Wales, Ireland,
Scotland, Uruguay and Argentina from September 28 to October
Mr Hoare is a senior cadet at Waipaoa Station, a commercial
sheep and beef farm 70km inland from Gisborne, where the
Waipaoa Farm Cadet Training Trust runs a two-year
agricultural training programme.
Originally from a sheep, beef and deer farm near Otorohanga,
Mr Reekers went through the Waipaoa programme in 2008-09.
He then headed to Lincoln to study for a year before working
on a farm in Southland for eight months, followed by a
12-month stint on a Timaru farm.
After spending several months helping a friend on a dairy
farm, he started working for his current employer, Peter
Bell, on an 1800ha sheep and beef farm at Waihaorunga, near
He described it as a ''bloody good job''. The next step in
his career would probably be managing a property, he said.
He is vice-chairman of the Glenavy Young Farmers Club and a
member of the Waimate Sheep Dog Trial Club.