Country comes to city school
A new $14 million agriculture hub in central Auckland is being developed to get young people interested in the rural sector.
Since 1932 Mount Albert Grammar School (MAGS) has been leasing 8 hectares of farmland from ASB Bank for a nominal fee of $1 a year.
Now the site is being developed to include five new classrooms along with upgraded buildings, repaired fences and new planting.
Resource consent for the development was granted in June.
Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy was at the sod turning ceremony last Friday.
Guy said it was one of the most sought after pastures of land in Auckland and would be modernised into a cutting-edge teaching facility called the Experience Centre.
There will be a vineyard, a hydroponics building and a sheep shearing facility - all powered by solar energy - where students will learn animal handling, dairy and horticulture production, food preparation and science.
‘‘The Experience Centre will demonstrate the innovation, science and environmental best practices used on farms across New Zealand,’’ Guy said.
Guy said the Experience Centre would lift MAGS teaching capacity in agricultural and horticultural science and agribusiness from 160 students to 500.
It would also educate 25,000 students from across Auckland each year.
‘‘Three buses full of students from other schools will visit the Experience Centre each day,’’ Guy said.
International trade delegates, industry stakeholders and tourists would also visit, he said.
ASB’s general manager Richard Hegan said New Zealand’s agri-food sector made up 67 per cent of the country’s exported goods but faced a huge challenge.
Too few young people were choosing a career in the agri-food sector - which needed to source 50,000 more employees within the next 10 years, he said.
‘‘The Experience Centre will showcase the career opportunities the sector offers.’’
Mount Albert Grammar School year 12 student Fatima Imran said most Auckland kids have never been on a farm before.
The Experience Centre would open people’s eyes to New Zealand’s primary sector, she said.