Kiwi a win­ner on Aussie soil

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By NI­COLA STE­WART

For­mer Mata­mata Col­lege stu­dent Tim van de Molen was re­cently named the Aus­tralasian Ru­ral Youth Am­bas­sador, the first time a New Zealan­der has won the ti­tle.

Mr van de Molen, who won the Royal Agri­cul­tural So­ci­ety of New Zealand Ru­ral Young Achiever award ear­lier this year, was “thrilled and over­whelmed” at the an­nounce­ment.

“To be the first Kiwi to take out the ti­tle was a fan­tas­tic mo­ment for me per­son­ally and some­thing I am de­lighted to have been able to achieve for New Zealand,” he said.

Com­pet­ing in Dar­win, the 29 year old was put to the test in an ex­ten­sive in­ter­view, which in­cluded ques­tions on his in­volve­ment in the agri­cul­ture in­dus­try, as well as his views on is­sues such as the live ex­port trade in Aus­tralia.

“The con­test has al­ways had a strong Aus­tralian fo­cus … so it has been a chal­lenge for New Zealand com­peti­tors to demon­strate the nec­es­sary level of knowl­edge about the Aus­tralian in­dus­try.

“I had com­mit­ted a con­sid­er­able amount of time to work­ing on meet­ing those ex­pec­ta­tions, so it was very sat­is­fy­ing to have the hard work pay off,’’ said Mr van de Molen.

The sec­ond part of the compe- tition in­volved a for­mal din­ner where each con­tes­tant went on stage for a 10-minute in­ter­view.

Mr van de Molen, an agribusi- ness man­ager for ANZ Na­tional Bank, was up against six Aus­tralian com­peti­tors, in­clud­ing a re­porter, an agri­cul­ture teacher, a com­men­ta­tor, a dairy farmer, a coun­cil sus­tain­abil­ity of­fi­cer and the run­ner-up, a World Wildlife Foun­da­tion en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity man­ager.

“The cal­i­bre was ex­tremely high and they had all achieved great suc­cess in their par­tic­u­lar fields,” said Mr van de Molen. “Any one of us could have won.” Agri­cul­ture was key to both New Zealand and Aus­tralia’s economies and Mr van de Molen said he would take the op­por­tu­nity as am­bas­sador to pro­mote that.

As part of the prize pack­age, he re­ceived a $5000 travel grant to fur­ther his agri­cul­tural knowl­edge and in­di­cated China as a place of in­ter­est.

Mr van de Molen has been in­volved with New Zealand Young Farm­ers for 11 years, in­clud­ing three years as vice pres­i­dent.

He was co-founder of the Hamil­ton Young Farm­ers Club and run­ner-up at the 2011 Na­tional Bank Young Farmer Con­test.

Photo: KATE RIVETT-TAY­LOR

High achiever: For­mer Mata­mata Col­lege stu­dent Tim van de Molen was an­nounced the Aus­tralasian Ru­ral Youth Am­bas­sador in Dar­win ear­lier this year.

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