WORDS: Charlie Pearson

Last year, Kate Taylor, a freelance journalist and event manager in Hawke’s Bay, was approached by NZ Young Farmers (NZYF) to write a book on the history of the institution in recognition of its 50th anniversary. “I didn’t need any convincing to say yes,” Kate remarks. And why would she? As a member of Young Farmers from the age of 15, an East Coast regional finalist in 2001 and later a photographer, organiser and media liaison for the contest, she has had a long and passionate association with NZYF.

Over the following year Kate travelled the country taking pictures; interviewing past winners, finalists and organisers and collating stories. She notes in the preface, “I hope this book proves that while competitors and winners are important cogs in the contest story, so too are the volunteers and the organisers.”

The result: 50 Years Young – A History of the Young Farmer of the Year, a book to celebrate the rural sector, what it means to be a farmer in Aotearoa, and an event that has become truly a fixture in our nation’s fabric.

All her hard work will culminate in the official launch of the book at the NZYF headquarters, Christchurch. But before that, a special celebration was held on February 11 in Marton for an exclusive pre-release at the One Stop Stationery & Books shop (attended by the likes of the Rural Women NZ President, Fiona Gower; Rebecca Brown, Young Farmers chair and David Skiffington, Young Farmer of the Year 2008).

Marton may seem an odd choice for such favouritism but considering that the Marton Young Farmer’s Club has produced the most grand finalists of any club in the country, it’s perfectly fair.

50 Years Young, published by Massey University Press is available online and in book stores nationwide.