Rangiora High School is one of the few schools in New Zealand with a working farm. The farm was set up in 1910 and, after years running stock and growing crops, it was restructured as a teaching unit.
Today the farm, that's a skip and a jump away from the main school, offers basic farming skills to about 500 students every year and supplements the theoretical teaching of the Land-based Studies department.
Head of department, Gareth West, oversees the running of the farm. "We've found that this meets the needs of those students that don't want to be in the classroom, that aren't that academic and we have programmes from year 9, which is more animal husbandry right through to year 13."
Students can gain Agriculture Industry Training Organisation unit standards, which can count towards the National Certificate in Agriculture and there is also an academic course for students wanting to continue their agricultural studies at university.
This year the farm is wintering a herd of beef cows and is running 150 mixed aged ewes that have started lambing. Most of the feed for the animals is grown on the farm. There is also an area for horticulture.
"It's one of the big advantages of having the farm on the doorstep is that students can be across the road doing English; a bit of Macbeth in the morning, then out lambing a lamb... yeah it's quite different!" he says.
For some students like 16-year-old Mitch Reed, the hands-on farm training is a step in the right direction. When he leaves school he would like to work on a sheep and beef farm.
"I know for me outside is where I belong, I can't really be inside, I feel a bit contained, I just want be outside and keeping active" he says.