The Importance of Animals and Agriculture to NZ

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Here’s what International Students should know about one of NZ’s key industries, and how you can get involved or witness farmers at work.

WWOOF – We’re Welcome on Organic Farms
A great activity for students looking to spend some time working in the summer break or who are keen for a unique Kiwi experience before starting their courses or after their classes are complete. Volunteers live with their hosts and work in the field 4-6 hours a week. Tasks could include anything from sowing seed, picking fruit, gardening, weeding, milking, composting, wine making, bread making and much more! WWOOF’ers stay with their host family for as long as they wish to (you could decide to stay one week or six months, its up to you and your host family). Hosts provide food and accommodation. Hosts also pass on their knowledge, training and methods of caring for their produce, animals, property to their volunteers. WWOOF is not an employment situation. Volunteers can leave at any time and there is no manager/employee relationship. Host families and volunteers have a family/friend relationship with their volunteers. To find out more, check this handy guide.

Study Agriculture

Preserving the environment, producing food and learning about nature are all part of this highly respected degree/diploma. As New Zealand’s economy relies so heavily on agriculture, graduates are always sought after in this field. Once you’ve got your qualifications sorted you could get a job as a farm manager, horticulturalist, forestry manager or stay at Uni and go for a Masters/PhD. Find out more about studying ‘ag’ here.

Sheep farming

New Zealand is well-known around the world for the quality of our wool and our lamb. Sheep are farmed all around the country and there are six sheep for every one person. There are many types of sheep that live in New Zealand, including; Merino (fine wool), Corriedale, Halfbred, NZ Romney, Drysdale (hairy coarse wool), Perendale (good for meat and wool) and Coopworth (good for meat and wool).1


Sheep shearing

Adhering to the work safe guidelines, sheep are shorn once a year in ‘shearing sheds’ so that their wool can be used to make garments for people to wear. Wool also has plenty of other uses, such as; blankets, material, shoes, mattresses and insulation. Shearing practices are monitored closely to ensure animal welfare, with shearers needing proper experience and careful hands to ensure the sheep is uninjured. Sheds are specifically designed to facilitate hundreds to thousands of sheep to be shorn per day. A team of experienced shearers can get through over 3,000 sheep in a single day. Shearing is a job and a sport. Most shearing takes place in the warmer months and lambs are provided with coats when they are first born in spring, as they feel cold, but once sheep are around a year old they are shorn and tolerate cold. Shearers use sling back supports to prevent injuries. Shearing tools are blade shears or machine shears. World championships take place every few years and this year’s event is in France from July 4th to 7th 2019 – the 18th event in history. Te Kuiti is the self-appointed shearing capital of the world! The Golden Shears, held in Masterton, is the worlds premier international shearing and wool handling event.

Dairy farming

Focusing almost exclusively on cows, the dairy industry has become a major part of New Zealand’s economy. The major player in the industry is Fonterra (which is owned by 10,500 of New Zealand’s farmers). Fonterra is New Zealand’s largest company with over 20,000 employees in 2017.

Beef farming

New Zealand is also known for its quality of beef, with cattle in lowland areas being farmed to produce high-quality grass-fed beef. New Zealand’s cows have plenty of pasture to graze in and lots of grass to eat.


With most areas of New Zealand being within 30 minutes to an hour’s drive of the sea it is a key part of many Kiwis lives. Whether for sport of profit, most New Zealanders would have been out on a boat at one point or another. Just make sure to check the rules about places you can fish, the sizes of fish and the amount of fish that you catch.


New Zealand has a thriving vegetable and fruit industry, with locally grown produce playing a key part of a balanced diet for Kiwis everywhere. We also have an excellent climate for the growth of flowers, fruits and vegetables. Many NZ'ers have a garden in their backyard that they cultivate and manage as well. In NZ the industry produced $5.5 billion worth of revenue in exports for the Government in 2018. This figure is projected to rise again in 2019.

Who are iStudent Complaints and what can we help you with?
iStudent Complaints is an independent dispute resolution scheme established by the New Zealand Government. Our objective is to encourage swift settlement of contractual and financial disputes between international students and their providers in New Zealand. As an independent and impartial service, we are not affiliated with any Education providers.

Why did we do this blog?
Even if we need to step in one day to help you resolve a dispute, we want you to enjoy studying and living in our amazing country as much as we do. To that end, we’ve created this content so that you may continue to explore and experience the best New Zealand can offer.