Taihape, known as the Gumboot capital of the world, has become home to another gumboot, the Golden Gumboot, after local Mairi Whittle takes out Fieldays Rural Catch competition.
Mairi came out with top honours after a gruelling week of competitions for the eight Fieldays Rural Catch finalists who were tested on their knowledge and skills on quad bikes, chainsaws, health and wellbeing, fencing, artificial insemination, dog-handling, financials, cooking, tractors and fitness.
The former rural bank manager is currently working as a shepherd on a 1100ha beef and sheep farm east of Taipahe and will be heading back to celebrate and the make the most of the fantastic prize pool.
“It’s been an amazing week! We had an awesome bunch of people involved and we faced some great challenges. It’s been a busy week, but I’ve really enjoyed it,” said Mairi
“It’s a surprise to get the win, there’s a fantastic prize pool thanks to the sponsors so I’m stoked to take the win and for all of the memories from throughout the competition,” she says.
Special mention also goes to DairyNZ farm manager Ben Fisher of Ohaupo who came in a close second place behind Mairi and provided some fierce competition throughout.
Following this year’s theme of Future of Farming the Fieldays Rural Catch for the first time had four men and women competing against each other.
New Zealand National Fieldays Society CEO Peter Nation spoke of the new format and the high calibre of this year’s contestants,
“This year we have an outstanding group of people with high aspirations that clearly represent how the future of farming looks for New Zealand,” says Peter. “While we thought the girls would have a strong representation in the winner’s circle, we didn’t expect them to take out all three awards.
“We hope this doesn’t put off any of the lads thinking about entering next year’s competition,” he went on to say.
Fieldays Rural Catch People’s Choice award went to Lilly Newton of Urenui, Taranaki who was a laugh a minute, very quickly winning over the crowd with her sense of humour and good-natured banter.
“I’ve really enjoyed meeting all these new people and networking with all of the sponsors and people involved it’s been an absolute laugh.
“Thank you to everyone who voted for me on Facebook and for sharing the poll and getting others to vote. I wouldn’t be here without all of your support so than you!” said Lilly.
This year’s Fieldays Rural Catch was made possible thanks to Fieldays Rural Catch partner Farmlands Co-operative and sponsors Suzuki, Swanndri, STIHL and Skellerup who all contributed to the prize pool for the winners.
Before Fieldays started the contestants took part in a two-day Farmlands road trip where they competed in a range of competitions at various Farmlands locations. Palmerston North’s Renae Flett shined throughout and took out top honours for the Farmlands Choice Award.
Mairi takes home the coveted Golden Gumboot trophy, a brand new King Quad worth $17,995 thanks to Suzuki, a $2000 Swanndri voucher, and STIHL and Skellerup vouchers. Lilly walks away with Swanndri, STIHL and Skellerup vouchers and all competitors receive a $500 STIHL voucher, so no one walks away empty-handed.