'Run-down' training farm given new life in bid to help redundant workers

The training farm went into liquidation at the end of 2018 .
The training farm went into liquidation at the end of 2018 . Photo credit: Pinterest

By Susan Murray of RNZ

The Government is backing plans to give a new lease of life to Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre, near Masterton.

The training farm went into liquidation at the end of 2018 and since then various groups have tried unsuccessfully to get it running again.

Minister of Agriculture Damien O'Connor said Taratahi, along with the training farm Telford, near Balclutha, will be used to provide taster-courses specifically designed to attract people made redundant during COVID-19.

''It's great to have Telford up and running again and to provide huge opportunities for Kiwis and others who are looking for jobs.

''It's a great set-up but it was run down over the last 10 years through a whole lot of problems that were not of their own making and we are trying to get Taratahi as well. We need the training establishments, we need the jobs,'' he said.

O'Connor said there is not yet a firm timetable for Taratahi.

''We are working as fast as possible, there is great enthusiasm from the Wairarapa to get it up and running. There are still some technical issues with the liquidator who can get in the road from time to time but at the moment is really co-operating so we can use the facilities and get under way while the issues of ownership are still yet to be resolved.''

O'Connor said $1 million is available to the Southern Institute of Technology, or SIT, to run the free weekend-long taster courses at Telford for people who know nothing about agriculture.

He said the short-term courses will probably run every couple of weeks.

''The SIT is helping develop those courses to make them appropriate for the areas of demand and that flexibility is something that we are trying to incorporate in the new tertiary training system that we have rolled out. It wasn't working well in the past but we are going to make it work well into the future.''

O'Connor said Telford has a rural contractor course ready to go for people upskilling around heavy machinery and it has been over-subscribed with interest from people formerly working in tourism.