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Farmers find the perfect break

The Wairarapa Surfing for Farmers season finished last Thursday and what a season it was.

Between 20 and 30 farmers and rural people attended over 12 weeks with upwards of 50 there for the final session at Riversdale Beach.

The aim of surfing for farmers is ‘to provide a unique opportunity for farmers to take a break from their all-consuming businesses and engage in outdoor activities, enjoy fresh air, exercise and connect with fellow farmers, rural families and industry professionals’.

It achieves all of those aims.

Wairarapa coordinator and local farmer and rural valuer Richard Moore said that the initiative was having a positive impact on grassroots rural New Zealand.

“Farmers are getting out of their comfort zone and trying something new.” he told me.

“We have men and women of all ages coming to Riversdale and having a go.

“There are farm cadets straight out of high school through to those verging on retirement, all giving it their best on a surfboard.

“People try their hand at surfing, have a beer and a barbeque and then relax and talk to others”.

Wairarapa Rural Support Trust facilitator Steve Thomson was also effusive about the benefits of Surfing for Farmers.

“It’s a great way to get farmers off the farm and connecting with others. They share stories and share problems. It’s definitely been worthwhile, and long may it continue,” he said.

The initiative has been incredibly successful nationally, with more than 4000 farmers and rural people taking part.

Almost 600 instructors were involved at 27 locations up and down the coastline. It’s the fifth year that the program has been running in Wairarapa.

It’s been branded ‘the surf therapy initiative’ with the aim of ‘making a positive impact on the wellbeing of grassroots New Zealand’. This year’s theme was to ‘take the beach back to the paddock’, which creates in the organiser’s mind ‘the perfect break’.

Richard Moore said that the local support had been ‘amazing’. All the equipment, coaching, food and beverages were provided at no cost. Locally, the Surfing for Farmers was run by volunteers, all willingly giving up their time.

The sponsorship had also been amazing locally. Lawson Avery Accountants, TFM Tractors, Homegrown Butchery, Baker Ag, Wairarapa Property Consultants, Reisma Haulage, H&T Agronomics, Powerco, LIC and Ed Wallace Livestock were all generous in their support.

Next year promises to be even bigger than this. It is an amazing initiative with incredible local support and a proud track record of success.

    Alan Emerson is a semi-retired writer, farmer and businessman living in Wairarapa. He writes a weekly column for Farmers Weekly and has written and/or edited five books.

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