New Zealand’s agriculture industry and culture provided students with unbelievable experience
Written by Kendell Combs, Junior, Agribusiness Management & Agricultural Communication
Kia Ora! Blake Hinch and Andrew Snyder used this New Zealand saying commonly while in the country, which is how New Zealanders greet one another. They can both agree that their Agriculture in New Zealand Study Abroad trip enhanced their interest and appreciation for other countries’ cultures.
Studying abroad in New Zealand for Blake (Sophomore; Agribusiness Management; Lake Forest, IL) and Andrew (Senior; Agribusiness Management; Basking Ridge, NJ) involved visiting dairy farms to learn about New Zealand’s dairy production practices where farmers shared factors that are currently affecting cattle production in their country. The group visited sheep farms including the Mt. Nicholas sheep station and were shown sheep shearing and merino wool. At both production farms, a common theme was that diseases are affecting the livestock populations. Aside from animal production, students also visited two vineyards where they learned about New Zealand’s wine industry, its production, and how to properly taste wine.
Andrew enjoyed exploring natural parks, coastal and agriculture landscapes, learning about the country’s unique wildlife, and connecting it all to the rich geographical, historical and cultural heritage of this incredible country. His favorite place was Queenstown, which is located at the southern part of the South Island. “Absolutely breathtaking views, I had to restrain myself from constantly taking pictures!” While engaging in the Maori culture, the group learned the Haka dance, known as the Maori war dance. This was one of Andrew’s most memorable experiences while abroad.
If Blake had to pick the most interesting thing he learned, it would be the current disease affecting New Zealand’s beef production. “This particular bovine disease is very hard to trace, and it is ruining the beef industry. In fact, one farmer that we talked to said that it took three tests to diagnose one cow with the disease that previously tested negative for it the first two times.” This disease has forced New Zealand to kill off half of the country’s total cattle population, negatively affecting its economy so much that its Parliament has passed a temporary action to tax tourists to try to make up the funds that it is currently losing. This was truly devastating to hear about, yet Blake found it fascinating to witness how issues in agriculture can really affect an economy in a big way.
A fun fact the group learned while on the trip: There are more sheep than people in New Zealand!