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A partnership between Northland College, Kaikohe and Lincoln University

Telford Rural Polytechnic supported with distance education the decile one secondary school located in Kaikohe. That school is Northland College. When Lincoln and Telford merged in 2011, the University was fortunate to inherit that relationship. In last two years it has built on it, working with the school’s Commissioner Chris Saunders and its new Principal Jim Luders (along with other staff). The College and University formed an educational hub with its chairman chosen by Rangatira of the Ngāpuhi Iwi Sonny Tau, that Chairman being Lincoln alumnus and VFM gold medallist Ross Hyland.


The educational hub supports the teaching of agriculture in the College and the learning pathway from the College into tertiary education in our LincolnFirst Telford Division or our three Faculties. The University has also overseen the restoration of Northland College’s dairy farm for the purpose of training the College’s students in agriculture and for use by LincolnFirst Telford as a tertiary training facility. The University has contracted the services of local dairy farmer Murray Jamieson to help restore the farm’s fortunes and secure sponsorship for its operation. The results have already been sufficiently remarkable to attract visits from New Zealand’s Cabinet Ministers for Education; Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment; and Primary Industries plus many of their senior officials.   


Northland College has had a falling roll for over a decade, down from about 800 to about 180 students. On any given day it had about 30% of its students truant and roughly half of its students left school with no job to go to. Only six students were studying agriculture, although this is a major economic activity in Northland. The roll is almost entirely Maori. The new leadership of the College has reversed the decline, with it rising to over 300 in 2014. There are now 37 students studying agriculture, with 20 of those coming back to the school from (largely) unemployment as they’d heard something good was happening. The training farm has an effective new manager – Loretta Smyth - and a governance committee co-chaired by the Commissioner and Murray Jamieson, and comprising local business leaders and farmers. The farm’s production has risen 80% over the previous year and the profit it earns will be re-invested in the farm’s infrastructure.


Moreover, the Government entity overseeing the installation of broadband cabling to schools throughout New Zealand (called Network for Learning) has decided, on this occasion to go behind the school gate and install broad band connectivity in the farm’s milking shed so that students across the country can monitor the performance of individual cows and the data can be used for science, business and environmental studies. Murray Jamieson has introduced a ‘fund a cow’ campaign, whereby individuals and businesses are each purchasing a cow for the farm. This is now gaining momentum. Furthermore, business has come to the party in a significant way.


From 1 May to 1 September 2014 sponsorship of Northland College training dairy farm stands as follows; a total of $120,000 in cash and product has been secured for the farm. This is on an annual basis rather than a series of one-offs, other than provision of free sheds. For example, the tractors and side-by-side “all-terrain vehicles” will be changed over and replaced with brand-new ones at a maximum period of 18 months. Sponsors include international tractor and farm machinery company John Deere/Cervus; New Zealand farm buildings company Sheds 4 U; New Zealand’s cow genetics company LIC; New Zealand’s red-meat processing and marketing company Greenlea; multinational forage seeds companies PGG Wrightson, Agricom and Agriseeds; and Fonterra’s stock and station, and animal feeds company RD1.


Maori students interested in agriculture will be trained in the maintenance and operation of sophisticated farm machinery as part of this sponsorship. Moreover, we have secured agreement from competing companies to work together for the good of the Northland region, for which we are grateful. In addition to this $120,000 of annual sponsorship, Murray has secured $50,000 of annual scholarships, obtained for students studying agriculture or silviculture at Northland College and then Lincoln University. The organisations providing annual scholarships are New Zealand’s red-meat marketing company First-Light Foods; forestry company Summit Forestry; New Zealand products company Ecolab; the local (Northland) Hine Rangi Trust; and multinational Nufarm. 


We have secured an even more significant deal in the past few weeks, built around offering a course in forestry. The College owns a substantial forestry block situated adjacent to it. Forestry is a major part of the Northland economy and there is a need for a skilled, well trained labour force. Details are:

  • Forest of 260 ha
  • 200 ha planted now in partnership with the private sector
  • Remaining 60 ha planted at 10 ha per year for student training
  • Students pruning 10 ha a year
  • Students involved in the harvesting 10 ha a year
  • Three way partnership between the private sector, government and Lincoln University
  • Specialist teacher in the classroom
  • Industry professionals training the students on the land.


I hope you agree that the Northland College-Lincoln University partnership is a remarkably exciting initiative. The Government of Peru has just funded Murray Jamieson to fly there and brief Cabinet Ministers, senior officials and business people on this training model. He is doing this on behalf of the University in concert with the University’s international, commercial farming collaborator, DairySolutioNZ / Beef SolutioNZ.


Murray Jamieson Minister Joyce and Charles Lamb  Murray Jamieson


I note that Murray Jamieson is standing for election to the board of Dairy NZ.