FARM TRAINING INSTITUTE
Special arrangements have been made by the Department of Maori and Island Affairs for a small group of boys to enter the Telford Farm Training Institute at Balclutha each year.
This in an excellent opportunity for Maori boys to obtain sound training in all important aspects of farming. The course lasts one year, students being taken into the Institute each January and May.
Mr William Telford, an early pioneer in South Otago came from Cumberland in England to Australia, and then on to New Zealand, landing at Bluff in 1867. He purchased land on the southern bank of the Clutha between the Waitepeka and Puerua Streams. Slowly he acquired several thousand acres which included native grasslands, bush and swamp. Under Mr Telford's direction, tussocklands were ploughed and grassed, swamplands were developed, and his steading became a centre in the district.
The magnificent homestead was built in 1869 with a local stone quarried and expertly shaped, along with Oamaru limestone brought down the coast and ferried up the Puerua Stream. A large woolshed and eight-horse stable was built at the same time from bricks fired on the property.
Mr Thomas Telford, son of the pioneer, continued the development work. He constructed stopbanks down the Puerua and installed flood-gates to assist in the drainage of what has become the rich dairy farming area of Paretai. Over the years the Telford family have been renowned for their Hereford cattle and they have maintained a strong affection for the Kent Romney Marsh sheep. It was Mr William Telford of the third generation who left 1,600 acres of farmlands for the betterment of these two breeds, and the Institute in its farming programme will always give them pride of place.
With the sanction of Miss Jane Telford and Mrs William Telford the trustees in 1964 made the property available for the establishment of this Institute.
The farm has a total area of 1,610 acres and can be divided into three classes of country. Wide-topped ridges run back behind the buildings to make an area of easy
Practical work in the shearing sheds for Chris Albert, the first Maori student sponsored by the Maori and Island Affairs Department
Such a property four miles from Balclutha and half a mile from a freezing works is ideally located and suited for the diversified farming necessary for the instruction of students.
A large part of the property is devoted to sheep, and 4,000 Romney breeding ewes and a supporting flock of hoggets are carried. This number of sheep provides very adequately for the training of students in
sheep management and in shearing and wool handling which is taught in a modern six-stand shed. A small Romney stud flock has been established through the generosity of members of the Romney Marsh Breed Society.
Two hundred and sixty acres are devoted largely to dairying. The herd has been developed from donated weaned calves which have come from all the dairying districts of Otago and Southland. At present one hundred cows are being milked, but this will grow to one hundred and fifty. A modern herringbone shed with round yard provides excellent facilities for student instruction. A piggery unit is at present under construction. A small Hereford stud is also being developed and already seven heifers and the use of a stud sire have been given by Breed Society Members.
A cropping programme involving nearly four hundred acres gives excellent opportunity for student training. Wheat, oats and barley are grown as cash crops, and swede, turnips, choumoellier and rape for stock feeding. The handling and maintenance of machinery is an important part of the course.
The students are under the general supervision of the Warden who lives in the hostel. The Principal lives immediately adjacent to this building. Each student has a bed-study cubicle and he is required to keep it clean and tidy. Lounge, reading and recreation rooms provide for periods of relaxation. Accommodation is available for about 60 students in two drafts.
Ample opportunity exists for students to organise their own sporting, hobby cultural activities, and every encouragement is given to this end.
The students have their own association and appoint officers to carry responsibilities. The President and Executive Committee are responsible for the general organisation of the association and each club has its own committee.
Rugby, Indoor Basketball and Table Tennis are played in the winter and Swimming and Athletics are organised during the summer. Social evenings are organised by the Social Committee and a ball is held at the completion of each course. The Young Farmers' Club is active, and the students benefit from participation in district competitions in debating, stock-judging and shooting.
Students at Telford spend alternate weeks on the farms and in lectures. They receive intensive practical and theoretical training in all aspects of sheep and dairy farming, including important related subjects such as:
Soils and Manures
Farm Management and
Farm Engineering and Construction
Special Financial Help
Maori boys selected for training at the Institute can obtain special financial assistance from the Department of Maori and Island Affairs. This includes the payment of board and school fees at the Institute — about $550.00 for each student — and the payment of travelling expenses from their homes to Balclutha. Each Maori student also receives $4.00 weekly by way of pocket money and the Department will help with the purchase of school and working clothing, where required.
Boys interested in training at the Institute should have completed at least three years secondary education and preferably
Future Employment Prospects
On completion of one year's training at the Institute, the Maori students can be placed in the Federated Farmers' Farm Cadet Schemes for two years' further training and experience, or in other suitable farm employment.
Maori graduates from the Institute would have very good prospects for future employment with the Department, with Maori Incorporations on Crown properties, or with private employers, as well as good sharemilking opportunities.
Fuller information about how to enter this worthwhile farm training scheme can be obtained from the nearest office of the Department of Maori and Island Affairs.