Friday, December 8, 2023

Chasing the rainbow

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He can play it for laughs and he can play it serious. There’s a discerning side to social media star farmer Tangaroa Walker. Tim Fulton reports.
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Media sensation Tangaroa Walker has X-factor in spades and he wants to use it to lift other farmers out of the mire.

Walker has a virtual arena for the job, his vividly upbeat and out-there Facebook page, Farm 4 Life.

He is a contract milker on a 550-cow farm at Invercargill.

The page is a funny but sometimes poignant look at the industry’s challenges. 

It’s full of piece-to-camera videos with Walker riffing on issues of the day. Sometimes he strings together interviews with farming professionals but mostly it’s just him, with yarns and banter.

On his LinkedIn page Walker says Farm 4 Life is a social media channel aimed at educating and inspiring youth into the dairy sector.

“Farm 4 Life has also helped current employees and employers manage their farms along with goal-setting and advice around new technologies and opportunities that are now flooding the market, helping us run more user-friendly operations and systems,” he says.

He describes Farm 4 Life as a documentary of the life as a farmer in New Zealand, sharing not only the good and the bad but also the ugly.

The page has a hard-core following. 

When he posted plans to take a holiday to Ireland he was bombarded with invites from Irish fans wanting to meet him and have him stay a night or two.

His style verges on anarchic, loaded with verbal twinkle that makes viewers dissolve with laughter.

He has been known to keep a noteboard handy behind the camera to maintain a train of thought but the commentary rolls out naturally.

But the moment passed. He doesn’t blame anyone and puts it down to not having a break.

He says he strongly supports mental health and fitness and he understands Farm 4 Life has helped put things into perspective for those going through tough times, allowing them to see that they are not the only ones dealing with day-to-day challenges.

His immediate farming ambition is to lift the in-calf rate. While he’s aware of the increasing constraints on-farm, like nutrient restrictions and emissions targets, he doesn’t claim expert status in those areas. 

“I’ve just been the average Joe farmer but I’m going to start videoing our environmental impact and how we can minimise it. “

Likely topics are advice on reducing runoff and nitrogen leaching, including a look into the link between bacteria spread on pastures and the build-up of nitrogen and urine.

“I really want to video those sorts of things over the next year. 

“Again, it’s happening to everyone and we’re so uneducated around it, even myself. So it’s going to be good. I’m excited.”

Farm Facts

Owner: Mirakanui DLP

Contract milker: Tangaroa Walker

Location: Invercargill, Southland

Farm Size: 186ha, 50ha support block 

Cows: 550 crossbreed

Production: 2018-19 222,000kg MS

Target: 2019-20 245,000kg MS

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