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‘George the Farmer’ book sets awarded to schools to help boost understanding of farming and food production

Forty-five primary schools across New Zealand will soon be better equipped to teach their students about where food and fibre comes from after winning ‘George the Farmer’ book sets in a recent competition run by agri lending specialist Rabobank.

The competition – which ran in early September – was open to all primary schools across New Zealand and attracted close to 250 entries. The winning schools were announced last week, and the new educational book sets will be delivered to schools early in term four. The sets feature six ‘George the Farmer’ books, with each book covering a different agricultural sector.

Rabobank Upper North Island Client Council Chair Donna Arnold said the bank’s Client Council network had developed the competition with the aim of improving knowledge about farming and food production among young New Zealanders.

“The bank’s Client Councils work closely alongside the Rabobank team to address key industry and community challenges in farming and agribusiness,” she said.

“Initiatives developed by the Client Councils are centred around five key themes – two of which are agricultural education and the urban/rural divide.

“The book sets link to both of these themes, and we are very excited to be working together with ‘George the Farmer’ to increase awareness of food and fibre production and to share his books with tamariki across New Zealand.”

Rabobank Upper North Island Client Council Chair Donna Arnold (centre) and Deputy Chair Johan Van Rus (left) with students from Tatuanui School and their ‘George the Farmer’ books.

Rabobank Upper North Island Client Council Chair Donna Arnold (centre) and Deputy Chair Johan Van Rus (left) with students from Tatuanui School and their ‘George the Farmer’ books.

About George the Farmer

George the Farmer is a fictional character featured in a series of books, paddock to plate videos on YouTube and educational resources.

His story began in 2012 when founder, South Australia-based farmer Simone Kain, was trawling the internet looking for farming books and apps for her farm-obsessed son, George. Simone quickly discovered there wasn't a human farming character globally who was telling sequential stories about life on the land for children.

In 2014, the ‘George the Farmer’ book and educational resource series was officially born and over the past nine years more than 100,000 Aussie kids have connected to the earth, food and farm through the adventures of George the Farmer, his agronomist wife, Dr Ruby and their twin children, Lucy and Jack.

The books are garnering attention and sales outside of Australia with stockists in the US and Canada selling the brand over the past nine months and retail sales being sent to many countries including the UK, Hong Kong and New Zealand.

Ms Arnold said one of the books in the packs which will be delivered to New Zealand schools features Kev and Susan – gun shearers from New Zealand.

“In the book – George the Farmer shears a sheep – Kev and Susan help George and Ruby shear their sheep before the weather sets in. Kev is the New Zealand Shearing Champion having won the event by taking the fleece off a sheep in just 16 seconds!,” she said.

Ms Arnold said each ‘George the Farmer’ book was connected to a set of learning resources which can be accessed by teachers online.

“With help from Simone and the New Zealand Agribusiness in Schools programme, seven New Zealand-specific learning resources have recently been developed which focus on apples, dairy, crayfishing, wool and wheat, peas, sustainable forestry and plantation forestry,” she said.

“These great new resources are now available on the Agribusiness in Schools website. They include a huge variety of activities for year one to year five students and will really help to further expand students’ understanding of some of New Zealand’s key agricultural sectors.”


Winners located across New Zealand

Ms Arnold said as part of the competition entry process, schools were asked to provide a brief explanation on why their school should receive a set of the books.

“We received some fantastic explanations from schools, with some of the urban-based schools saying the books would help their students gain a better understanding of a topic they knew little about, while others in rural locations thought the books would help build pride among their pupils who came from farming families,” she said.

“It was very difficult to select the winners, but we landed on a group of winners which includes a good mix of urban and rural schools from regions right across the country.” 

Ms Arnold said she was confident the book sets would prove a hit with New Zealand children.

“As a test run for the competition, we provided a set of the books to Tatuanui School in the Waikato earlier in the year,” she said.

“The kids at Tatuanui love the books, and I’ve no doubt they’ll be very popular with the students at the schools who were selected as competition winners.”

Ms Arnold said the ‘George the Farmer’ book set giveaway was one of several Rabobank Client Council initiatives focused on improving agricultural education among Kiwi kids.

“It’s vital that the next generation has a basic understanding of New Zealand’s agricultural sector as it’s such an important component of the country’s economy,” she said.

“In addition to the book set competition, the Client Council network has also played a key role in developing several other recent activities to improve understanding of food production and to highlight career opportunities in the agri sector.”

“These include the bank’s new partnership with food education charity Garden to Table, the development and release of agri-focused board game GROW, and the Rabobank FoodX programme which highlights agri career opportunities for school leavers.”



The 45 schools who won a George the Farmer book set for their school library


Rabobank New Zealand is a part of the global Rabobank Group, the world’s leading specialist in food and agribusiness banking. Rabobank has more than 120 years’ experience providing customised banking and finance solutions to businesses involved in all aspects of food and agribusiness. Rabobank is structured as a cooperative and operates in 40 countries, servicing the needs of about 10 million clients worldwide through a network of close to 1000 offices and branches. Rabobank New Zealand is one of the country's leading agricultural lenders and a significant provider of business and corporate banking and financial services to the New Zealand food and agribusiness sector. The bank has 32 offices throughout New Zealand.

Media contacts:

David Johnston
Media Relations Manager
Rabobank New Zealand
Phone: 04 819 2711 or 027 477 8153
Email: david.johnston@rabobank.com

Denise Shaw
Head of Media Relations 
Rabobank Australia & New Zealand 
Phone: +612 8115 2744 or +61 2 439 603 525 
Email: denise.shaw@rabobank.com