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Volunteers hard at work preparing new SIAFD venue

16/06/2014

The volunteers who make South Island Agricultural Field Days happen are even busier than ever in the build up to next year’s event.

South Island Agricultural Field Days (SIAFD) have been held in the vicinity of Christchurch every second year since 1951. The 2015 Field Days take place March 25th-27th and will be the first to be held at their new home near Kirwee.

SIAFD recently purchased the 100-acre Kirwee property after outgrowing their former leased site near Lincoln University. In addition to getting ready to host 25,000 or more visitors, the organisers have to develop the infrastructure of the new site.
SIAFD Volunteers in Kirwee
Volunteers make up both the SIAFD executive committee, which provides governance, and the SIAFD organising committee, which manages the event. Most are farmers, all work in the agriculture sector, and all take time from their busy lives to plan and run the field days.

Agricultural engineer David James chairs the SIAFD executive committee. David says it was a major effort to find the new site and it will take another big push to get it ready for its first field days.

“We had really out-grown the Lincoln site, and we examined six or seven venues before deciding on the Kirwee property. It is a large rectangle and provides us a better layout to hold the event,” David says.

“We financed the purchase through a combination of revenues from previous field days and a bank loan. The site gives us greater certainty for the future because it is half of an 82 hectare property, and we have the option to buy the other half if we need to expand.”

David says the executive committee has now turned the property over to the SIAFD organising committee, who will develop it from scratch, and he wishes them well.

Rangiora dairy farmer Alastair Robinson chairs the organising committee. He manages an 800-cow dairy operation.

Alastair says there is a long list of tasks to be completed before next March.

“Machinery demonstrations and other agricultural technology have always been the primary focus of South Island Field Days. We will maintain this focus and will not expand to include crafts or lifestyle displays.

“To ensure we have a good crop for harvest equipment demonstrations, we have organised a half-circle centre pivot irrigator,”
Alastair says. “We still need to organise power and water supplies throughout the site, laneways, fences, culverts, storage sheds and a sound system.

“Committee members will be busy throughout 2014 preparing the venue, and in the new year we will have working bees every week to get things finalised.”


Organising committee member Daniel Schat is a 50/50 share milker on a family farm at Te Pirita. Daniel looks after communication and publicity for SIAFD.

He says the organising committee is keen to find sponsors and partners to develop a professional event.

“Volunteers do most of the work that makes field days a success but we do pay for some services such as catering and traffic management.

“We are now looking for partners to help us develop our new site’s infrastructure. In particular we need to put in laneways, remove treelines, and add fences.”


Another committee member, Michaela Soper is a research manager for Christchurch-based seed company Seed Force. During field days Michaela is in charge of parking and gate entry.

She says every effort will be made to hold an efficient event at the new site.

“We look forward to hosting everyone at our new venue but please drive carefully, be patient and remember that almost everyone who serves you at field days volunteers their time.”

For further information contact us on 03 318 1845 or info [at] siafd.co.nz.

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