Tauranga’s Next Deer Farmers? | Issue 195

Dec 14, 2023

- Ivan Davie, Tauranga Boys College

In 2021, 44 agricultural and horticultural students visited Kevin Morley’s deer farm near Te Puke. Tauranga Boys College has over 2,000 students, most are urban, but a number live on rural lifestyle blocks in the surrounding area. A number of students already had a considerable interest in deer - mostly due to recreational deer hunting.

I had a background in horticulture and kiwifruit. To even locate a local deer farm in the Western Bay of Plenty - let alone one that would allow a large number of students to visit - I contacted the New Zealand Deer Farmers Association. Tony Pearse made contact with the Bay of Plenty branch, and I was contacted by Liz Love.

Liz kindly co-ordinated our first visit to Kevin Morley’s deer farm in May 2021. I had a pre-visit to the farm during which I got a master class in venison and velvet production.

Liz and Don Love talk to Tauranga Boys College students

Over the last three years more than 250 students (Years 10 to 13) have attended 10 different deer farm visits. Visits have also taken place to Liz and Don Love’s farm near Rotorua, Mike and Harley Steiner’s property near Kaimai and Rangitaiki Station. Hugh Signal from Alpine Deer came and spoke to students at school about velvet and venison marketing. Liz Love has given her ongoing support, time, and knowledge to the teaching of velvet and venison.

In 2021 there were 80 students at Tauranga Boys College taking agricultural and horticultural science. In 2024, there will be well over 200 students taking agricultural and horticultural science, with classes running from Year 9 to Year 13. Students are already aware and interested in deer and the ongoing support from the deer industry helps to develop this interest further.

With the support of Liz Love and the Bay of Plenty branch of the NZDFA and Deer Industry New Zealand (through the community engagement fund), two trophies were made to acknowledge the top senior and junior agricultural students. Until now, students have been awarded certificates. Mike Steiner kindly attended and presented the Senior trophy to Aidan Spratley at the Tauranga Boys’ College Senior Academic Awards in October. Aidan lives in Tauranga and has had a long interest in deer hunting, venison, and deer production.

Aidan Spratley receiving award from Mike Steiner

“I was around 12-13 years of age when I shot my first deer. Not long after I shot one on a school camp. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the trophy. Thought it was bloody cool. Better than any of the other trophies by far. It definitely best-suits the award.”

Aidan Spratley

Aston Milham

Aston Milham is in Year 10 and was the top academic junior agricultural student for 2023. These trophies will be used to promote agricultural science and deer farming at Tauranga Boys’ College.

Continue reading DFA Stagline Issue 195, next: 2023/24 Stag and Wapiti Bull Sales >> 

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