Anything but a head in the sand? Pioneering ostrich farming in New Zealand
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
The aim of this research was to identify how farmers learn how to farm using pluriactive lifestyle block ostrich farmers who are part of the New Zealand ostrich industry as a case study. Ostrich farming is comparatively new to New Zealand farmers and the industry has attracted innovative individuals who have developed informal learning strategies. Ostrich farmers use other farmers as their main resource which is mainly facilitated through events organised by the New Zealand Ostrich Association (NZOA) and aimed at lifestyle block farmers. Ostrich farmers' community of practice is centred around their membership to the Association which enables farmers to come together to learn and socialise. For learning to effectively take place the key is social interaction, where ideas can be transferred between farmers. This thesis illustrates the important events and structure of the industry and how this has shaped farmer learning. Through semi-structured interviews and participant observation on a chick rearing farm I was able to gain a picture of how lifestyle block farmers balance full time off-farm employment while running stock, in an attempt to satisfy their version of the rural idyll. The industry is now in decline as most of the early players have exited the industry and it is now focused around New Zealand Ostrich Export (NZOE) goals. By exploring the period called the breeder phase which was characterised by some farmers making a fortune as ostrich farming was the 'next big thing' and the history since then, I have identified how these particular farmers have learned how to farm.