Friday, April 12, 2024

Cream rises at Manawatū Dairy Industry Awards

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Share Farmer of the Year winners named at annual awards in Palmerston North.
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The 2024 Manawatū Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners are a future-focused couple who are proud to be building a business that showcases high-quality milk.

Will Hinton and Kali Rangiawha were named 2024 Manawatū Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmers of the Year category at the region’s annual awards announced in Palmerston North on Thursday evening. 

The other major winners were Luke Ackerman, the 2024 Manawatū Dairy Manager of the Year, and Isabella Panettiere, the 2024 Manawatū Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Hinton and Rangiawha were presented with the trophy by Nikki Watson from Trelleborg and won $11,000 in prizes and four merit awards.  

They are contract milkers for Tim and Victoria Gorton on their 350-cow, 113 hectare Halcombe farm.

Born in the United Kingdom, Hinton holds a BSc Agricultural Business Management from Reading University and a National Diploma in Agriculture from Lackham College. He built a farming partnership with his father comprising 500 sheep and 30 cows.  

After travelling the world as a shearer, he landed in New Zealand, where he worked as a farm consultant and data analyst for two and a half years. 

He met Rangiawha, who had realised dairy farming was her future while relief milking to fund her university degree.  

“I’ve farmed in three countries with herds ranging from 160-1000 cows and am proud I’ve worked my way through the industry from farm assistant to contract milker,” she says.

The couple believe the progression ladder in the dairy industry is very clear and attracts farmers from around the world.  The couple enjoy the lifestyle farming brings them and their three children, including working outside year-round.  

“Calving season is my most enjoyable season as every day is different, you’re always busy and the satisfaction you feel from saving a down cow or helping a cow calve is next-to-none,” Hinton said.  

Achieving a work/life balance has proved challenging with sourcing reliable staff, however the couple have now become accredited employers and are looking forward to employing someone full-time.  

“The accreditation attracts some of the best workers from all over the world.”

Achieving record productions in their first year on every farm they have worked on is something Hinton and Rangiawha are proud of and on track to do again.

Kate Dawson was named runner-up in the Manawatū Share Farmer category. She is contract milking for Karen and Mark Dawson on their 114ha, 300-cow Marton property. She won $2,875 in prizes and two merit awards.

The 2024 Manawatū Dairy Manager of the Year is Luke Ackerman who won $5,450 in prizes and three merit awards.

The first-time entrant is herd manager on James Stewart’s 180ha, 383-cow property in Ashhurst and saw the awards programme as great opportunity to network with like-minded people and grow his support network.

A qualified mechanic, Ackerman worked in the automotive industry for 15 years and began working in the dairy industry three years ago.  

“I wanted our family to grow up on a farm and have the lifestyle I did as a farm kid.”

Ackerman identifies his marriage as a strength of the business. 

“My wife Sarah and I work so well together and I believe together we can do anything we set our minds to.”

“It’s also helpful having a mechanic background and understanding of machinery,” he said. “It means I can fix everything and not pay another bloke to!”

He is excited about the new technology and innovations being introduced in the dairy industry. 

“I love learning all the new ways we can benefit our farming future.”

The 2024 Manawatū Dairy Trainee of the Year is Isabella Panettiere, who is herd manager on Fonterra’s 255ha, 630-cow Longburn farm. She won $7350 in prizes and two merit awards.

 The first-time entrant considered the awards programme an excellent way to benchmark her current skills and where she sits within the industry.  

“I want to progress my skills and network so I can continue to move forward in my career and it’s an amazing opportunity to do so.”

Panettiere holds a Bachelor of Science majoring in Animal Science from Massey University and completed the LIC Artificial Insemination course.  She is currently studying towards PrimaryITO Level 3 Livestock Feeding.

She is excited about the new progressions and science behind improvements within the industry.  

“I’m excited to see how we will achieve 30% reduction in nitrogen by 2030.”

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