By Chelsea Boyle
Karamu High School old boy Wesley Pearse has taken out the top spot for best student at Taratahi’s recent graduation in Wairarapa.
Among seven accolades, Mr Pearse took home an award for dog handling skills, sheep and beef management, and an award for leadership.
The 21-year-old spent two years in the army before starting at Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre, but said he always wanted to be a farmer.
“I just knew my passion definitely did lie with farming,” he said.
“I really wanted to pursue it. I was in the army, and that was all well and good, but you start getting that passion burning in you. I just wanted to try it.
“My grandparents were surprised, because there is nowhere it really comes from.
“I’m a townie through and through… I’m not from a farmy background but I worked hard.”
Mr Pearse said he would love to work on a sheep and beef farm in the future.
About 170 students took part in the graduation ceremony.
For Chief Executive Arthur Graves, it was the first graduation he had attended in Wairarapa since he started at Taratahi in February 2016.
“It was a great honour to be here to mark the graduation and success of so many people who show such promise,” he said addressing the crowd.
Taratahi graduates are part of a large organisation with a history of providing students with the education and skills for a career in the agricultural sector.
That blend of education and practical skills training is what makes Taratahi graduates sought after by employers, Mr Graves said.
Chair Mavis Mullins said it was heartening to see so many young women take out some of the top titles, with awards split evenly between male and female students.
“The Best Overall Dairy student Chanthrea Key – who also happens to be a gun fencer, comes from a Cambodian immigrant family,” Ms Mullins said.
“She is a credit to the two nations she represents and we expect to see her go on to a stellar career in the dairy industry.
“The primary sector is crying out for skilled graduates who really understand what it takes to work on a farm and I am confident that Taratahi is producing some of the best graduates in the country.”