The ASB MAGS Farm at Mount Albert Grammar School was established in 1932, when the Auckland Institute of Horticulture decided that city children were losing knowledge of farming practices and asked Mount Albert Grammar to teach agriculture and horticulture. The Auckland Savings Bank became involved on a charitable basis, and special legislation was passed to allow the Bank to buy land from the neighbouring Kerr-Taylor sisters’ farm and lease it back to the school at a peppercorn rental.
It is currently an 8.1 hectare working farm featuring a variety of livestock and a classroom centre, educating 160 students annually from Years 10-13 in Agricultural and Horticultural Science.
In 2013, a new lease agreement was signed between ASB Bank and the Mount Albert Grammar School Board of Trustees with ASB leasing the land to the school for an effective 99 year term at a nominal annual rent of $1.
In June 2015 the ASB announced development plans for the farm that include a world class teaching facility and Experience Centre.
Together with the MAGS Foundation and KPMG, the ASB Bank aims to enhance the farm’s facilities to educate Auckland students and the wider community about the agricultural sector and its career opportunities.
The development plans have the support of the Ministry of Primary Industries and New Zealand’s largest agricultural organisations, such as Fonterra and Dairy NZ, as one answer to a looming skills shortage in New Zealand’s primary sector, where 50,000 people are required to support the sector’s growth over the next 10 years. The MAGS farm, in the heart of the country’s biggest city, is seen as the ideal resource to showcase the sector to young people. It will demonstrate the innovation, science and environmental best practices used on farms across New Zealand, and be the driver for substantially increasing the number of MAGS students studying agriculture from the current total of 160. The new Experience Centre will aim to host at least 20,000 primary students from across Auckland each year. The original intent of the farm has come full circle.
Headmaster Mr Patrick Drumm says the school’s agriculture and horticulture programmes have expanded to full academic courses from Years 10-13, including the introduction of an AgriBusiness course.
“We welcome investment in our farm facilities to help provide students with the best possible preparation for study and work in the primary industries, and further afield.”
The redevelopment of the farm and construction of the Experience Centre will be further advanced in consultation with other Foundation Partners including KPMG, Fonterra, Landcorp Farming, Te Tumu Paeroa, Plant and Food Research, NZX Agri, Ravensdown, PGG Wrightson, NZ Forest Owners Association and the Ministry of Primary Industries. Other primary sector participants will be invited to take an active role in supporting this collaborative project, as well as the wider Mount Albert community.