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Phenomenal success of Surfing for Farmers programme

The Southland App

03 March 2021, 5:30 PM

Phenomenal success of Surfing for Farmers programmeJacob Mackie and Cameron Turner from Mt Linton Station enjoy the thrill of surfing. PHOTO: Supplied

One night each week during summer, Southland farmers have been trading the paddock for the beach.

Surfing for Farmers events have been running since December, with hundreds of farmers and others involved in the agricultural sector taking up the offer to give it a go at Riverton or Colac Bay.

Southland co-organiser Tom Slee said most weeks between 45-50 people turned out to ride the waves on the south coast.

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“Everybody seems to be enjoying themselves. There’s a few coming back for more, and new people coming each time too.”

Getting out on the water was really relaxing and having a go or just having a “lie down on a board”.

The programme was another option for people to step away from the farm for a wee break, he said.

“I was surprised at the different crowds that have been coming, from 18-year-olds to 60-year-olds and a great mix of men and women.”

Tom Slee and Jess Terrill are keen to get farmers off the turf and into the surf. PHOTO: Supplied

Thriving Southland Senior Catchment Coordinator Rachael Halder said the programme had been extremely well received and supported.

“It’s really cool to see people of all ages and from all sorts of rural backgrounds getting together off the farm for a surf and a catch up,” she said.

“Thriving Southland is proud to support initiatives like this because it aligns completely with our vision to support Southland communities with their wellbeing and connections,” Rachael said.

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Tuatapere sheep and beef farmer Nathan Parris has been twice and is keen to get back for more.

“It was really good. It was my first time surfing and I would never have done it otherwise. It’s a great opportunity to try something new.”

As a novice surfer, it was great having Southland Surf School owner and former NZ Women’s Surf Champ Jess Terrill out on the water teaching them, he said.

“It was really easy, because Jess is coaching you, and there’s a few people associated with farming who surf, guiding you and giving you a few pointers.”

Family and farm commitments meant he couldn’t always get down for a surf, but taking a break and doing something different was really worthwhile, Nathan said.

“Things can get a bit stagnant, and it’s good to reset the brain occasionally.”

Nathan said he reckoned a lot of people who had been for a surf had been on TradeMe looking at surf boards for sale.

“It’s definitely a great programme.”  

Sarah Crosbie enjoys a salty sea break. PHOTO: Supplied

Wyndham sheep farmer Norm Hunter has been to the event three or four times and is also keen to get back out as often as possible.

He said one week when it was about 10degC and hailing he was amazed that there was still about 45 people out surfing.

“Everyone’s absolutely loving it.”

Norm said he loved the whole experience from having a yarn to a mate while driving to the beach, getting out on the water, meeting new people, and having a beer and a sausage on the BBQ afterwards.

“You just chew the fat. It’s just the social interaction you don’t get on the farm. Everyone’s in the same boat.”

He wanted to thank the organisers for getting the programme up and running, and the volunteers helping out on the water and on the BBQ.

“People are giving their time up for nothing, just to help us out. They’ve done a great job getting it going,” Norm said. 

Surfing for Farmers’ supporters include Bayley’s Real Estate, Ballance Agri-Nutrients, Jarden, Rabobank, Thriving Southland, VetSouth, Total Life, Findex, Southland Rural Support Trust, Wairaki Station, Thinkwater Southland, Alliance and Farmlands. 

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