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Agri-focused board game helps students prep for NCEA exams

Preparations for National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) exams have looked a little different for many students across New Zealand this year, thanks to a new agri-focused board game.

Developed as part of a joint initiative between Rabobank, Te Whare Wānaka o Aoraki Lincoln University and the Agribusiness in Schools Programme, the new Grow board game was created to support learning by year 11 students studying NCEA Agribusiness and Agricultural & Horticultural Science. It covers all the major topics within the relevant curriculums and provides students with a fun way to learn and reinforce the course content.

Following more than two years of development and production, 550 sets of the Grow board game were delivered to secondary schools taking part in the Agribusiness in Schools Programme early in term four.

“It’s been a long time in the making, but it’s great to now have the game being used in schools across New Zealand,” Rabobank NZ CEO Todd Charteris said.

“We‘ve had plenty of feedback coming in on the game over recent weeks and it’s been really heartening to hear it’s proven popular with teachers and students.”

The new game touches on a host of subjects including – but not limited to – biosecurity, soil composition, waterways, key agri terms, biodiversity, biological processes, animal behaviours, weather patterns and agricultural production by region. It also incorporates elements of Mātauranga Māori.

Feedback from schools

Agricultural & Horticultural Science teacher Anthea Garmey from Motueka High School – one of the more than 125 secondary schools that received the games – said she’d utilised Grow throughout term four with her year 11 and 12 students.

“It’s a fantastic game and the students engaged with it straight away,” she said.

“Since the games arrived, I’ve often had students come into class and ask if they can play the game, and then they will quite happily play it for the whole period.

“Everyone really loves it and has learnt lots from playing the game. And the real bonus is that the content is all very relevant for their assessment.”

Ms Garmey said game questions had prompted some excellent discussions among her Agricultural & Horticultural Science students.

“There’s a lot of variety in the questions. Some of them are quite challenging and this has led to some really good discussions among the students about potential answers,” she said.

“As teachers, we call this type of learning from one another ‘co-constructing knowledge’, and it’s always really positive to see this happening as it’s a highly-effective way for students to further expand their knowledge.

“Grow also gets them thinking a bit more about the business side of agriculture, and I’ve been quite impressed by some of the conversations I’ve heard students having around topics like the pros and cons of holding assets versus cash.”

Given the positive initial feedback from her students, Ms Garmey said she’d be looking to make use of the game as part of her session planning in 2024.

“It’s definitely something I’ll look to use throughout next year with my students,” she said.

“It’s also the type of tool that would be ideal for a relief teacher to use on occasions when I can’t be there,” she said.

Agricultural Science teacher Anita Taylor from Paraparaumu College – another of the high schools to receive sets of Grow – said students in her Agricultural Science class had also really enjoyed the new game.

“I used the game with my year 11 students as revision before their Agriculture exam and it worked really well,” she said.

“The students found the questions quite challenging, but even the students who don’t often speak up in class seemed engaged and very interested in hearing the answers to the questions.”

Ms Taylor said she’d also been using Grow with some of her year 10 students to give them a taste of the Agricultural Science curriculum.

“We offer Agri Science for our year 11, 12 and 13 students, and one of the key challenges we have is that many of our year 10 students and their parents don’t really know what the subject is all about – and several have the impression it’s solely focused on the practical elements of farming like driving a tractor,” she said.

“For students considering taking Agri Science, Grow is a really good introduction to the subject as it helps highlight the wide array of complex issues faced by those working in the agri sector.

“Year 10 students need to pick their subjects for the following year in June, and I’ll be using Grow with them in first couple of terms next year so they can make an informed choice on whether Agri Science is something they want to get into.”

Grow development

Rabobank New Zealand CEO Todd Charteris said the initial idea for the new game came about following discussions between Rabobank’s Upper South Island Client Council – a group of the bank’s clients from the upper half of the South Island who meet regularly to discuss the challenges facing the agri sector – and Lincoln University.

“Our Client Councils have identified long-term industry capacity as one of the key challenges facing the agricultural sector and, over recent years, our Upper South Island Council has worked closely alongside Lincoln University to develop initiatives to highlight to school students the range of career opportunities within the sector,” he said.

“One of the topics that has regularly come up in conversations between our Council and Lincoln University is the need for more resources to support learning about food production at the secondary school level and, as a result, it was decided the two parties would collaborate to develop a new board game which would help shine a light on the wide array of knowledge and skills required to run a successful farming operation.”

Mr Charteris said both parties felt it was essential to align the content of the game with the NCEA curriculum, so they reached out to Kerry Allen and Melanie Simmons from the

Agribusiness in Schools Programme to help with the design process.


The Grow game focuses on the financial, social, and environmental aspects of food

production. Up to six players can participate in the game, with all players initially allocated a piece of land and sum of money before choosing if they wish to operate a dairy, sheep and

beef, horticulture, viticulture, or arable farming operation.

Gameplay consists of players moving around a board and accumulating money which then

gives them an opportunity to purchase the required assets to operate their farm. Players must first successfully answer a question to collect an asset, and the first player to collect all the

assets required for their farm wins the game.

Rabobank New Zealand 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 customized banking and finance solutions to businesses involved in all aspects of food and agribusiness. Rabobank is structured as a cooperative and operates in 38 countries, servicing the needs of about 8.6 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 28 offices throughout New Zealand.

Lincoln University Lincoln University has a higher graduate employment rate than any other university in New Zealand, thanks to its wide range of learning options and close partnerships with industry. Lincoln has been teaching agriculture for 140 years, but as New Zealand’s economy has grown more diverse, the university has kept pace. It now offers a perfect balance of experience and future-focus with a variety of specialised areas from agricultural science, horticulture and viticulture to agribusiness, environmental studies, tourism and landscape architecture. Importantly, Lincoln’s focus on sustainable land-based practices ensures that productivity does not come at the expense of the environment.

Agribusiness in Schools

Agribusiness in Schools in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, NZQA and the primary industries have collaborated to design an agribusiness programme that will prepare the best and brightest students for careers in the primary sector. It is offered at NCEA Levels 2 and 3 and is designed for students who excel in science and commerce subjects. This academic course exposes students to the wide range of skills required and the opportunities available in the primary sector beyond the farm gate. The agribusiness programme is now being offered at more than 100 schools around New Zealand.


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