Friday, April 12, 2024

Backpackers on dairy winners’ podium 

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Uruguay pair named Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa Share Farmers of the Year.
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The winners of the 2024 Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa Dairy industry Awards have come a long way since arriving in New Zealand as backpackers – literally with the clothes on their backs – and credit their success to hard work, learning, listening and the guidance and advice of good mentors.

Alvaro Luzardo and Ximena Puig were named the region’s Share Farmers of the Year at the annual awards dinner, which was held at the Copthorne Masterton on March 5, and received the trophy from Trelleborg.  

Rene ten Bolscher was named the 2024 Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Manager of the Year and Kieran Scannell the 2024 Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Due to the minimum number of finalists not being reached, Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa Share Farmer and Dairy Manager entrant scores were benchmarked against the national average, with data collated from the 10 other regions. 

This also means merit awards are awarded if the entrant achieved at the right level. 

Luzardo left Uruguay and arrived in New Zealand in 2013 for a working holiday and began work on a dairy farm in Canterbury to save money and continue travelling.

“I spoke no English, so my boss used to draw on a whiteboard what I had to do,” he said. “This was the beginning of my career in the New Zealand dairy industry.”

Puig joined him in 2018 and believes their teamwork is a strength of their business.  

“We complement each other and keep each other motivated to do well,” she said.  “The key to our success is communication.”

The couple are currently 50/50 sharemilkers on Geoff Arends and Ester Romp’s 164ha, 480-cow Eketahuna property.  

They won $7750 in prizes and six merit awards.  

The first-time entrants decided to enter the awards to meet new people and learn from the experience.  

“We wanted to challenge ourselves and put our names out there for future opportunities.”

Growing up in a city of 40,000 in Uruguay, Luzardo holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Engineering, which is similar to the NZ agricultural science qualification.  He has also achieved PrimaryITO Levels 4 and 5.

“I have loved farming since I was a child, as I enjoy the flexibility of farm life, working outdoors with the animals and the challenge of managing resources,” he said.

Puig holds a Bachelor of Architecture and grew up in Montevideo, Uruguay. She works as an architectural designer from home, and makes it work with the farm. “I love working with the cows and rearing calves,” she said.

Runner-up in the region’s Share Farmer category was Baljinder Singh, who $2775 in prizes and one merit award.

Third place in the Share Farmer category was awarded to Chaminda and Thilanka Wijesooriya, who won $1325 and a merit award. They were third placegetter in the same category in 2022.

The 2024 Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Manager of the Year, Ten Bolscher, won $6450 in prizes plus three merit awards.

Ten Bolscher is farm manager on Clarence and Elise Stolte’s 170 hectare, 500-cow farm at Carterton.

The third-time entrant placed third in the same category in 2022 and says every time he has entered he has learnt more and became more confident.

“I had to figure out why we use the systems we use and go into more depth with the reasons why,” he said.  

“A lot of the puzzle pieces fell into place as I went searching, giving me a much clearer view of the farm and reasons behind each choice.”

Ten Bolscher qualified as a plumber, electrician and engineer in his native Holland, before moving to NZ in 2013 on a working holiday. 

“Farming suited my visa and I quickly discovered I loved the lifestyle, the variety of work and the challenge of always being able to improve and be more efficient.”

The 2024 Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Trainee of the Year is Kieran Scannell, who entered the Awards to meet like-minded people who have similar goals. 

Kieran is 2IC on Mike Burmeister’s 323ha, 1050-cow farm at Pahiatua. He won $6,100 in prizes and one merit award. 

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