Waving goodbye to farm demands

Southland Surf School director Jess Terrill (right) teaches sheep and beef farmer Victoria Baker, of Stag Valley in Mossburn and dairy farmer Bryan Clearwater, of Scott’s Gap at Surfing for Farmers at Colac Bay. Photo: Katrina Thomas
Southland Surf School director Jess Terrill (right) teaches sheep and beef farmer Victoria Baker, of Stag Valley in Mossburn and dairy farmer Bryan Clearwater, of Scott’s Gap at Surfing for Farmers at Colac Bay. Photo: Katrina Thomas
It is the final board meeting for the season as the Surfing for Farmers programme wraps up in Western Southland tomorrow.

Surfing for Farmers Southland events co-organiser Tom Slee said up to 50 people working in the agricultural sector learnt to surf one night a week during summer in Western Southland.

The surfers were a mix of men and women aged between 18 and 60, he said.

The programme runs for about 13 weeks, between December and late March, across 16 regions.

Dairy farmers Bernie Wales (left), of Oreti, and Erin Buchanan, of Wreys Bush, get ready for the...
Dairy farmers Bernie Wales (left), of Oreti, and Erin Buchanan, of Wreys Bush, get ready for the Surfing for Farmers programme at Colac Bay, Western Southland on March 11.
Mr Slee helped launch the programme in the South after seeing the initiative in Gisborne.

The first Southern event was held at Monkey Island, near Orepuki, in December last year.

The location changed depending on the wind, weather and tides and sessions this summer were held at Riverton Rocks, Colac Bay and Monkey Island.

Each session was free and started about 6pm.

Dairy farmer Tim McPherson, of Pahi, gets set for the Surfing for Farmers programme at Colac Bay....
Dairy farmer Tim McPherson, of Pahi, gets set for the Surfing for Farmers programme at Colac Bay. PHOTOS: KATRINA THOMAS
Sponsors paid for the wetsuits, boards, a barbecue and surfing tutors.

“We were really excited to have Jess Terrill from the Southland Surfing School come on board this summer and help out farmers wanting to give it a go.”

Ms Terrill said all skill levels were welcome and no surfing experience was necessary.

"Surfing for Farmers is a safe and supportive environment, with experienced instructors in the water helping you. No need to worry about fitness either; the boards would still float with the entire All Black front row on them.”

Surfing was fun and provided a change of scene after a day on the farm, she said.

The programme offered farmers shared experiences as a group, the chance to learn something new and to "get their minds off the usual demands farming brings".

Southland Rural Support Trust chairwoman Cathie Cotter said farmers sometimes needed an excuse to get off the farm and connect with each other.

"Trying something new together can only be a positive.”

Tuatapere sheep and beef farmer Nathan Parris said the programme was a great opportunity to take a break from the farm.

"Things can get a bit stagnant and it’s good to reset the brain occasionally."

Wyndham sheep farmer Norm Hunter said he was enjoying the "whole experience", including having a sausage and a beer after the surf.

"You just chew the fat. It’s just the social interaction you don’t get on the farm."

Dairy farmer Craig Tomsett , of Tapanui, gets on board at the Surfing for Farmers programme at...
Dairy farmer Craig Tomsett , of Tapanui, gets on board at the Surfing for Farmers programme at Colac Bay


Mr Slee said programme coaches and co-ordinators from across New Zealand would meet in Gisborne next month to plan for next summer.

Feedback from the surfing sessions in Southland would be used to devise ways to encourage more farmers to give surfing a go, Mr Slee said.

 

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