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Aspiring farmers given headstart by Laing Trust

Peter Laing Memorial Trust recipients Bridey Kiernan, Bradley Knowles, Rex Pearson, Kayla Burgess, Jake Hewitt, and Rei Reiri are a step ahead after each received a share of nearly $9000.  PHOTO/ELI HILL

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Six aspiring farmers from Wairarapa have been given a share of nearly $9000 to boost their farming careers.

Peter Laing Trust Grant recipients Bridey Kiernan, Jake Hewitt, Kayla Burgess, Rex Pearson, Rei Reiri and Bradley Knowles were selected for the grants by a panel of judges from a group of 13 applicants.

The grants are given to financially assist young people looking to enter further study or purchase dogs and equipment to assist with employment.

Peter Laing Trust chairman John Dalziell said the trust had an emphasis on the practical side of farming.

“The grants probably aren’t for someone looking to enter university,

“For someone to start farming it’s two to three grand for a dog, you’re going to need gumboots and wet weather gear, [and on] some stations you need a saddle. The capital you need to just to get a job is substantial.”

He said the level of sponsorship the trust had received this year meant they’d been able to offer more money than any year before.

Award recipient Rex Pearson will be attending Taratahi Institute of Agriculture in 2019 studying for his Level 4 and said he would use the money he’d received to buy a sheepdog, a step towards his goal of building a team of dogs.

“This grant means a lot, it gives us a good step into agriculture.

“I plan to get into shearing for a few years and then work my way to farm manager.”

Rather than continuing his education at university, fellow grant recipient Jake Hewitt is working locally to gain experience.

Like Pearson, Hewitt said he’d use his grant to help pay for a dog.

Of the recipients Kiernan, Burgess, Knowles and Pearson will study at Taratahi in 2019, while Hewitt and Reiri, will be jumping straight into work.

Reiri will begin his working career on Glenburn Station at the start of next year.

During the grant presentation graduates got a chance to hear the life story of Peter Laing.

Laing managed Castlepoint Station from 1954 until his retirement in 1991, earning a reputation over the years as a hardworking, practical man who was also a great visionary in his field.

During his time on Castlepoint Station, Laing trained a large number of young people who have gone on to become successful farmers in their own right.

Laing also served as a councillor for Masterton County Council in the 1980s.

The Peter Laing Memorial Trust was established in 2005, a year after Laing died aged 74.

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