The self-proclaimed gumboot capital of the World, Taihape has a new gumboot in its midst. Taihape local Mairi Whittle has brought home the coveted Golden Gumboot as the winner of the Feildays Rural Catch competition.

Mairi came out with top honours after a gruelling week of competitions for the eight Fieldays Rural Catch finalists who were tested on their knowledge and skills on quad bikes, chainsaws, health and wellbeing, fencing, artificial insemination, dog-handling, financials, cooking, tractors and fitness. The former rural bank manager is currently working as a shepherd on a 1,100ha beef and sheep farm east of Taipahe and will be heading back to celebrate and the make the most of the fantastic prize pool.

“It’s a surprise to get the win, there’s a fantastic prize pool thanks to the sponsors so I’m stoked to take the win and for all of the memories from throughout the competition,” said winner Mairi Whittle.

Following this year’s theme of the Future of Farming, the Fieldays Rural Catch for the first time had four men and women competing against each other. New Zealand National Fieldays Society CEO Peter Nation spoke of the new format and the high calibre of this year’s contestants,

“This year we have an outstanding group of people with high aspirations that clearly represent how the future of farming looks for New Zealand,” said Nation.  “Whilst we had hoped the girls would have a strong representation in the winner’s circle, we didn’t expect them to take out all three awards.

Fieldays Rural Catch People’s Choice award went to Lilly Newton of Urenui, Taranaki who very quickly won over the crowd with her great sense of humour and good-natured banter.  “I’ve really enjoyed meeting all these new people and networking with all of the sponsors and people involved,” said Newton.

Golden Gumboot winner, Whittle took home the coveted trophy, a brand-new Suzuki King Quad, a $2000 Swanndri voucher, and STIHL and Skellerup vouchers. Newton walked away with Swanndri, STIHL and Skellerup vouchers and all competitors received a $500 STIHL voucher, meaning no one walked away empty-handed.