Story: Agricultural education

Agriculture is vital to New Zealand’s economy, so it is no wonder there are so many ways of learning how to be a good farmer – from on-the-job training to a university degree.

Story by Robert Peden
Main image: Grit board game to teach children farming terminology and practices

Story summary

All images & media in this story

Since European settlement, New Zealand has been a farming country. Farmers want to have good skills, but people have had different ideas about the best way to get them – whether it should be on the job, or from university or other courses.

European farmers arrive

When European missionaries and settlers came to New Zealand, they brought their own ways of farming. They tried to keep up to date with the latest farming ideas, machinery and animal breeds, and formed clubs and groups to keep themselves informed. Māori also learned European farming techniques.

Learning about farming at school

Some children learned about farming at country schools and joined agricultural clubs. A few secondary schools had their own farms where students could learn about animals and crops.

Farming universities

There are two universities in New Zealand that teach and research farming: Lincoln University in Canterbury and Massey University, near Palmerston North. Both of them have large working farms, used for study and research.

Training farms

Some people who want to be farmers go to training farms where they learn by doing practical work. They look after livestock, shear sheep, milk cows and grow crops.

Farming qualifications

There are several farming qualifications you can get. One of the most important is the National Certificate in Agriculture (Production Management), which takes at least four years to complete.

Getting farming advice

Most farmers like to keep up to date with new farming research and get advice from experts. The government used to have an advisory service, but now farmers can get advice from farm consultants and industry organisations.

How to cite this page:

Robert Peden, 'Agricultural education', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 29 September 2023)

Story by Robert Peden, published 24 Nov 2008