Vinni Bhula, of Whangarei, is studying at Telford, near
Balclutha, and is one of the facility's seven 'mature
students'. He used to work in viticulture but now is keen
to learn more about dairying. Photo by Yvonne O'Hara
At 25 and 26, Vinni Bhula and Nina Simonsen are helping
change the demographic of Telford, near Balclutha.
Most of Telford's 126 students come straight from school and
range in age from 16 to 19 but ''mature students'' Ms
Simonsen, of Marlborough, and Mr Bhula, of Whangarei, have
come to retrain to follow their interest in farming.
Ms Simonsen is Telford's oldest student for the year and was
a qualified cabinet maker and kitchen interior designer
before she spent 12 months on a dairy farm.
She wanted to continue farming in the area but there were not
a lot of jobs available as potential employers required more
experience and qualifications.
''I always had a passion to go farming,'' Ms Simonsen said.
''It is not who you know but what you know and you need that
piece of paper.''
She chose to move south to attend Telford to study for her
certificate in agriculture, level 3, this year.
''Next year I would like to work in the high country and get
into wool buying, so would like to be able to pick up some
extra papers to get me into it.''
While she enjoys the classroom learning - the fertiliser and
soil studies are ''brilliant'' - and work experience, she
said there was ''the shock of having no income''.
She flats in Balclutha and has a student allowance and
savings, and buys meal cards for the on-campus cafeteria.
''When I was working, I was pretty shocking at not budgeting,
so I needed to learn,''She intends to return to work once she
has earned her qualifications at the end of the year.
Mr Bhula is working towards a level three certificate in
He completed a diploma in viticulture after leaving school,
then worked on a vineyard for three years as cellarhand and
foreman. He also managed the family farm, which grew maize
under contract before they decided to diversify into
''It felt a bit of a shock, coming from being in my own
business and working to being a student, but I have settled
in now and really enjoy it.''
He lives in the campus hostel on savings. Telford has three
mature students from Papua New Guinea.
The school's apiculture course, run in Kaitaia, Northland,
has 18 students ranging in age from 18 to 62.
Of the 18, 12 are classed as adult students.
- by Yvonne O'Hara