Complaints show ‘thriving’ demand

University of Otago commerce student Jack Coakley relaxes on campus in Dunedin. PHOTO: SHAWN...
University of Otago commerce student Jack Coakley relaxes on campus in Dunedin. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE
Southern students considering careers in the red meat processing and exporting sector were among the Meat Industry Association scholarship recipients for 2021. In a series, reporter Shawn McAvinue asks them about their study and their plans. This week, he speaks to University of Otago commerce student Jack Coakley (18), of Canterbury.

Protests by diners in residential halls about "meat-free Mondays" show a bright future for the red meat sector, Dunedin student Jack Coakley says.

The Meat Industry Association scholarship recipient said he used the $5000 award to pay the fees to live on the University of Otago campus in Arana College.

The diets of his peers showed the red meat sector was going well.

"Based off the uni students, it’s going to be thriving."

Every Monday, all the residential halls served students meals which did not feature any meat.

The "meat-free Mondays" did not go down well with most students, he said.

"Everyone complains."

He was in his first year studying a bachelor of commerce in accounting and finance.

He chose to study in Dunedin for a "change of scenery" from his family home in West Melton, to the west of Christchurch.

"It’s pretty fun down here."

Studying away from home put him out of his comfort zone and allowed him to grow as a person.

"It’s really beneficial and you develop good social skills — which are really important to have in the workplace."

The dream was to become a chartered accountant and secure an "off-farm opportunity" in a commerce department in the agricultural sector.

"I love agriculture and numbers."

He also planned to learn marketing skills to help get more red meat into international markets.

His experience in the meat processing sector includes summer jobs on processing lines for Brinks Chicken, in Rolleston, and Hellers, in Kaiapoi.

He had expressed interest in future summer jobs in a financial division rather than on a processing line.

"It was a good experience but I want to be in the commerce sector much more."

His other experience included working on his family farm raising about 80,000 chickens for meat in barns on an 8ha property in West Melton.

"I’m keen to try something new while I have the opportunity and I’ll always have that to come back to."

He won the 2020 Junior Young Farmers of the Year competition.

He and fellow St Bede’s College pupil Mac Williams completed a week of challenges to beat 13 other teams across New Zealand in the young farmers competition.

The challenges ranged from building a tumble composter from a barrel to writing a business plan to develop and diversify a 250ha property to cater for the local market after Covid-19 hit.

The university gave him an $18,000 sports scholarship for winning the young farmers competition, which he would use to pay course costs.

That was on top of the $5000 red meat scholarship he receives for each year of his study.

"I’ll just have to pay for flatting and I’ll be sweet."

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