Dairy farmers are catching waves as the annual Raglan Surfing for Farmers season kicks off for summer.
Surfing for Farmers is a national initiative where hundreds of farmers around the country get off the farm and have fun, sponsored by DairyNZ, among others.
Raglan dairy farmer Jason Dickey said he was looking forward to hitting the surf and improving his skills. It’s his second year and he’s enjoying learning a new skill.
“It’s great to get away from the farm and do something completely different. I enjoy catching up with everyone, walking on the beach and watching the waves then jumping in. I’ve never been a water person, so it’s great to give surfing a go and challenge myself,” Dickey said. His wife Kelly helps organise the events.
Raglan organiser Matte Kirk, a former dairy farmer now working as a rural professional, started Surfing for Farmers in Raglan a year after the initiative began in Gisborne five years ago. Farmers now take part at 27 locations nationwide.
Kirk has been a surfer all his life. He said it has so many positives, including exercise and relaxation, and he loves sharing it with others.
“It’s great to see farmers at the beach after a hard day’s work, getting into the ocean for an hour or so, then enjoying a BBQ and camaraderie with other farmers, friends and family. They get a lot out of being in a new environment and learning new skills,” Kirk said.
Around 20 to 60 farmers come along each week to Raglan. Those who haven’t surfed before get a lesson. Sessions run once a week over December, February and March.
Farmers come from all over Waikato to attend including from Te Awamutu, Ōhaupō and Pirongia. Ōhaupō farmer Andrew Young said it’s great to see people of all ages and levels of surfing experience taking part.
“I love being out in the water. The waves are different every time, which adds to the challenge. When they’re really big, it takes more energy to catch a wave so you get great exercise and a sense of achievement. I really encourage everyone to give surfing a go.”
This season, DairyNZ is supporting Surfing for Farmers in eight regions: Northland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, lower North Island, West Coast, Canterbury and Southland.
“It’s a great initiative supporting farmers’ wellbeing where they spend quality time in their community doing something different,” said DairyNZ GM farm performance Sarah Speight.
“Support from the partners in this positive initiative is a great example of the collective spirit of our sector to support each other.”
A large number of organisations support Surfing for Farmers, including premium sponsors Fonterra, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Jarden, Ballance, Bayleys and Rabobank. Rural Support is a community partner and there are 10 grassroots partners including DairyNZ. Many local businesses also support the initiative in their regions.