Covid and Cyclone Gabrielle have made an impact on various people’s lives, leading some to seek a new direction and make completely different job choices.

This is where Land Based Training comes in.

Land Based Training was formed in 1996 by Rob Gollan and Jeremy Higgie, who both saw a need for agricultural-based training in the community.

They start at the grassroots, teaching students a range of skills, including embedded literacy and numeracy so they can fully take part in the modern world.

The Land Based Training team work with their students to build confidence and life skills, as well as prepare them for the future.

There is no time limit for students to become competent with literacy and numeracy, it is done at their pace, at an appropriate level and involves plenty of practical experiences.

They can then enrol in the choice of training programmes that are of interest to them.

Land Based Training has more than 40 sites throughout the country, from small regional communities to larger cities, ensuring that all students have equal opportunities to succeed at their chosen programme.

The largest single site is in Hastings with students from all over Hawke’s Bay.

Students come from all walks of life and many are referred by various government and community organisations.

What courses are available

All programmes carry an NZQA qualification and the courses available focus on agriculture, apiculture, horticulture, environmental sustainability, pest control, property maintenance and civil infrastructure.

Interestingly, pest control is quickly becoming a programme of choice, as many students are keen to make this a career – the outdoors being the drawcard.

It covers a range of skills targeted at protecting New Zealand’s natural environment, native animals, waterways and forestry from invasive pests, diseases, weeds and other threats.

There is also a range of short courses offered including various unit standards and micro-credentials.

These can cater for people from all walks of life; from staff on farms, to training for beginners and advanced practitioners, through to refresher courses.

Even if there is a course not presently being run, they are always happy to sit down and discuss requirements and what support options are available.

Land Based Training Priorities

Working alongside various iwi organisations, Land Based Training says the mission is to reduce barriers to education for all, including Māori and Pasifika learners, learners with disabilities and those with learning support needs.

This also includes incorporating te reo Māori and tikanga Māori into the everyday life of the place of learning.

With a lot of hands-on learning, students get the opportunity to work on community projects while learning on the job.

Otiwhiti Station Land Based Training Agricultural School in Hunterville offers the opportunity for trainees to train as shepherds on working farms.

This agricultural school has gained a reputation for educating and training students to a high level in both theory and practical skills.

At the completion of their course, trainees have proven to be well-skilled, employable and valuable shepherds in the Hunterville and wider regions.

– Written by Kem Ormond

Source: NZ Herald, 4 August 2023,