Green-thumbed pre-schoolers grow country's tallest sunflower

For the last few months, 12,000 Kiwi gardeners have been locked in a fierce battle to grow the tallest sunflower.

These aren't your usual gardeners - they're all under the age of five.

Today was measuring day for the biennial Daltons Sunflowers in Kindergartens competition, which is designed to give kids the opportunity to learn about gardening. Prizes are awarded both for the widest sunflower face and the tallest sunflower.

This year, that prize went to Frankton Kindergartens Waikato in Hamilton. Their impressive 3.2 metre sunflower is officially the tallest in the country - or at least in the competition.

Flowers across the country bloomed early this year thanks to the unseasonably warm weather, says Dalton spokesman Scott Bromwich.

"Because of the wonderful weather we've been having, the beautiful sunshine, they've developed a whole lot quicker than previous years."

For Claire MacDonald, a teacher at Frankton Kindy, first place is a very welcome surprise.

"I had to redeem myself because last time I did this, I killed most of them."