In the last week of September, a team of young New Zealand livestock judges and paraders will head with Geoff Smith, President of the Royal Agricultural & Pastoral Society of NZ, to compete against their Australian state counterparts at the Royal Melbourne Show.
These young stock men and women have been competing at A&P shows throughout the country during the 2016-17 season and the finals were held at the Royal show in Hastings in October last year.
Courtney Davies will have two roles at the Royal Melbourne Show, Dairy Cattle Parader and Beef Cattle Judge.
The team will be led by Tabitha Hazlett, Rural Ambassador. Tabitha won the NZ final at the RAS conference in June last year. She will be competing against the Australian State Rural Ambassadors for the title of the Australasian Rural Ambassador.
Tabitha, from Winton in the Southern District has grown up around the A&P scene since starting to ride ponies at the age of eight and progressing through to a Grade 3 equestrian judge. She was raised on a sheep farm which was recently converted to dairy. Tabitha has a Batchelor of Education and is currently teaching part time and working for her local A&P.
There are six other members of the team. The young judges will be Jack Roberton (Blenheim) - Merino sheep; Amy Hoogenboom (Palmerston North) – Merino Fleece; Craig Robertson (Rolleston) – Dairy Cattle; Courtney Davies (Auckland) – Beef Cattle; Emma Pollitt (Gisborne) – Meat Breeds Sheep. There are two ‘paraders’. Their job is exhibit or show their animals to their best advantage. They are Lucy Collin (Dannevirke) – Beef Cattle and Courtney Davies – Diary Cattle.
Courtney Davies has two titles, Dairy Cattle Parader and Beef Cattle Judge. She grew up in Diary Flat and took her calf club passion to A&P Showing and developing her small herd of purebred Ayreshires.
Although showing was her main focus she has developed an interest in Beef judging. Courtney will have just returned from the United Kingdom as the New Zealand Dairy Event Youth Ambassador. She is currently completing her Masters Research thesis.
Emma Pollitt, the meat breeds sheep judge, is from Gisborne. After gaining an agricultural qualification, she was a general shepherd then worked in a vet clinic with large animals. Now Emma is a technical representative for PGG Wrightson. Although her history was in beef cattle judging she is delighted to have demonstrated her skill in judge meat sheep.
Amy Hoogenboom, is the Merino Fleece judge. Merino is very strong in Australia so Amy will be facing some pretty tough competition. She is currently in her fourth year studying veterinary science at Massey. She did not come from a farming background but has been involved with the A&P Show circuit and young judges competitions for eight years now. Amy is also a member of the Future Beef NZ Executive Committee.
The first competition will be with Amy judging Merino Fleece on Monday September 25 along with Emma judging Meat Breed Sheep. Dairy cattle parading and judging will be on Thursday September 28 and the Beef on Friday September 29. The Rural Ambassador event for Tabitha will be on Sunday September 24 with a formal dinner where the Australasian Rural Ambassador will be announced.