The redevelopment of the ASB Bank MAGs Farm will provide greater career choices for students of Mount Albert Grammar School, and open the eyes of students from across Auckland to the wealth of opportunities available in the Primary Sector.
Nearly three years ago when the Mount Albert Grammar School Foundation approached ASB to discuss how we could work together to redevelop the ASB Bank MAGS Farm, I don’t think any of us had any idea just how important the project would become.
Now we’re ready to take our designs to council to get started on a project to redevelop the farm and create a smart farm in the heart of Auckland that will showcase to urban New Zealand the opportunities that exist in the rural sector.
The redevelopment is estimated to cost more than $10 million and we believe this will create an asset that holds national significance to the primary sector.
The vision for the ASB Bank MAGS Farm is to create a world-class experience centre and teaching facility that fosters primary sector excellence and skills across the industry from animal handling and food production to sustainable farming techniques.
The new farm will use the latest technology and will also house an ‘industry incubator’, showcasing products and services at the edge of primary sector innovation.
The farm’s location in central Auckland provides a unique opportunity to connect urban New Zealand with rural New Zealand. The farm opens doors for many city children to get involved and be inspired towards careers in a sector that greatly contributes to New Zealand’s prosperity. It also provides the rural sector with access to New Zealand’s largest talent pool of skilled people who are needed if the rural industry is to continue to achieve its potential.
Why is it so important for New Zealand’s primary sector to succeed? It’s simple: humans need food to stay alive. Ultimately the purpose of the primary sector is to produce food and New Zealand has fertile soils, plenty of water and infrastructure to enable this in a sustainable, efficient and cost-effective way. The world’s population and its demand for food continues to grow, and in a world where many people still can’t access fresh water to drink, and don’t have the ability to grow their own food, they will rely on countries such as ours to help fill that supply gap.
New Zealand’s primary sector faces a number of challenges. One that’s not often talked about is that we are failing to attract enough talent to work in the sector. I believe that the ASB Bank MAGS Farm redevelopment can help the primary sector demonstrate the reasons why a career in New Zealand’s most productive industry can be a challenging yet rewarding one.
The opportunities are vast, and range from being hands-on with stock or crops, to research in genetics, app development, food production, packaging, marketing, and exporting produce globally, as well as environmental management.
Behind the scenes, we’ve made some big gains on the MAGS Farm redevelopment project this year and we’re delighted to be able to say that we’re nearing the end of phase two and will embark on a fundraising campaign once the Open Plan of Works consent is granted.
That day will be an exciting milestone for the school, ASB Bank, KPMG, Plant and Food Research and the MAGS Foundation, who’ve been working towards a goal to have the redevelopment complete by February 2018, ready for our next generation of primary sector leaders to begin.
Jane Brice, Head of Rural Business Management, ASB Bank