Waitomo sheep and beef farmer Mitchel Hoare has been named Waikato Bay of Plenty FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

He is adding the title to his belt, along with former World Young Shepherd Champion.

It was the 24 year old’s first time competing in FMG Young Farmer of the Year (FMG YFOTY) who is now the second finalist through to Grand Final in Christchurch in July.

BNZ Rural Banker Kieran McHugh from Matamata was named runner up and Hamilton FMG mobile rural consultant, Joshua Rainey, came in third place for the region.

Accepting his win on stage, a tearful Mitchel said he was extremely happy and a ball of emotions.

“I’m a mix of excited, relieved and terrified all at once, it feels like the end but really it’s only the start, it’s overwhelming,” he said.

A former Waipaoa Cadet and Lincoln University Alumni, he has walked away with $12,000 in prizes.

“It was a lot harder than I was expecting that’s for sure, the time pressure is just insane. You’re just constantly in a hurry to finish tasks and then on to the next one, there’s no breaks, there’s no resting it’s just go, go, go all day. It’s not until you stop and actually have a moment to breathe that you realise how fatigued and tired you are and how much of a big day it has been,” he said.

The practical side of the contest was hosted by Saint Pauls Collegiate on Saturday where the eight Regional Finalists were put through their paces followed by an evening show.

A series of gruelling challenges, including a written exam, eight intense modules, a practical “head to head” race as well as the famous YFOTY buzzer quiz were all based around five strainers – technology, environment, people, food and innovation.

Kieran took out the top prizes for three strainers – technology, people and innovation – meanwhile Mitchel won the strainers for environment and food.

“It’s pretty encouraging, it’s good to see you know what you’re talking about from time to time, it was thoroughly enjoyable,” Kieran said.

“The time constraints meant that you were pushing yourself the whole time and there was a really good diversity of questions and thought provoking ideas. The hardest part was walking away from something that was only 90% done.”

Speaking of his performance on the field, Mitchel said he didn’t feel like he had any disasters but also didn’t feel as if he had nailed anything.

“I’ve never done any welding and knew I should have done it before, and lo and behold the first module I had to do was weld some steel up and it didn’t go so well. The nerves got the better of me and I couldn’t hold the welding rod still,” he laughed.

“The modules were just so challenging and so broad, it was so hard to study for and it really just tests you on every possible level so every contestant had strengths and every contestant had weaknesses.”

Joshua Rainey said he’s stoked to have come third place in his first Regional Final.

“I think I can relax now, there was a lot of pressure and I got thinking about things a lot, probably a bit too much,” he said.

He said he’ll definitely be back again next year with a bit of experience under his belt and hopefully improve his placing.

NZ Young Farmers CEO Lynda Coppersmith enjoyed watching the five strainers being put to the test.

“The challenges were hard and fast and really tested each contestant’s skills,” she said.

“Agriculture and the food and fibres sector is so much more than just building a fence, so to be able to challenge each contestant’s thinking, their innovation and knowledge and watch them just completely thrive is incredible.”

“It really goes to show how bright the future of farming in New Zealand is, we have so much to look forward to.”

Lisa Kendall was named as the first finalist through to the FMG YFOTY Grand Final for the Northern Region last weekend.

Coppersmith said the bar has been set high for the five Regional Finals left to go and five more Grand Finalists to be named.

For North King Country Young Farmer, Mitchel Hoare, the road to Grand Final starts now.

He is Second in Charge on a 1,600 hectare farm near Te Kuiti, running 17,000 stock units.

In 2014 at just 19 years old, Mitchel represented New Zealand at the World Shepherd’s Challenge in France for the under 22 year old age group.

He took out the championship against 15 other countries and remembers the language barrier as the most challenging part.

“I remember being really young with most of the people I was competing against doing it for their second or third time, from right across Europe, so I went into it not expecting anything, just wanting to have a good time and make the most of the opportunity and then it swung my way,” Mitchel said.

Standing on that world stage also gave him the confidence to back himself in the FMG YFOTY contest.

“That was when I started thinking ‘maybe I don’t want to just be a farmer, I want to be a good farmer’,” he said.

“I don’t want to just cruise along, I want to push myself and have a go.”

The FMG YFOTY event is sponsored by FMG, Ravensdown, Honda, WorkSafe, PTS, STIHL, Lincoln University, Massey University, Southfuels/Northfuels, Betacraft and New Holland.


– $1,000 cash reward from FMG
– A $1,500 Ravensdown package
– WorkSafe leadership course valued at $4,000
– Honda XR150 farm bike
– $1,000 New Holland voucher
– 3 year subscription to zero harm farms


1ST Mitchel Hoare
2ND Kieran McHugh
3RD Joshua Rainey


Technology – Kieran McHugh
Environment – Mitchel Hoare
People – Kieran McHugh
Food – Mitchel Hoare
Innovation – Kieran McHugh