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It’s fair to say that farming runs in Meika Wheoki’s blood. The 24-year-old was born and raised in Auckland, but for this city girl it was an easy choice to work on the land.
Her maternal grandfather was a dairy farmer and on her father’s side she had aunties who worked on family farms in the Far North. Many school holidays were spent heading out of the smoke and into the countryside, helping out on the farms or riding motorbikes on family land.
Although Meika qualified as a chef while still living in Auckland, she decided to follow her parents when they chose a new life for themselves, sharemilking in Wellsford. Starting with relief milking on the farm next door, Meika found she loved the lifestyle, and the next six years were spent learning all she could about dairy farming.
So at only 24, she is confident enough to work as a tutor for NorthTec, passing on her skills and knowledge to students of all ages.
Based at Hikurangi, Meika uses a mix of classroom teaching and practical work to tutor in the National Certificate in Agriculture (General Skills), a level 2 qualification, and the level 3 Certificate in General Farm Skills.
She takes pride in ensuring that all her students leave her programmes with the basic skills to start work and be useful farm employees from day one.
Meika has no problem dealing with male students young or old, and thoroughly enjoys seeing other young women come through the programme and go off to work with both the confidence and the skills to do well in a farm environment.
She says: “It was a little bit hard to start with. Older people would think I was a bit young to be a tutor, but once they understood that I do know what I’m talking about then it all fell into place regardless of any age gap. They knew I could teach them what they needed to get into the industry.”
She said she “gets a kick” out of seeing students go into employment and is especially pleased to see young women succeeding in agriculture. “It’s good to see females push into the industry. It’s just about having the confidence to go and do it.”
Meika says women make good farm employees, because while they may lack the muscle of their male counterparts, they use their brains to find a way around any problem. They tend to listen more, take a more cautious and gentle approach, and be open to wearing any protective clothing required. They also pay more attention to detail, she says.
NorthTec delivers the level 2 and 3 qualifications in farm skills across the North, with the level 2 programme starting in October at a variety of locations. NorthTec also offers the level 5 NZ Diploma in Agribusiness Management, aimed at experienced people in decision-making roles.
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