Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Taranaki dairy’s best honoured at awards

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Former zookeeper and his partner among the winners
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Daniel Barnard and Jess Matthews were named Taranaki’s Share Farmers of the Year at the region’s Dairy Industry Awards dinner, held at the TSB Hub in Hāwera on Saturday evening.  

Sarah Avery was named the 2024 Taranaki Dairy Manager of the Year and Eric Fa’anoi the 2024 Taranaki Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Barnard and Matthews are lower order sharemilkers on Roger Dickie’s 500 hectare, 1600-cow property at Waverley. 

They won $8,000 and one merit award, and were presented with the historic trophy by Ivan Burrows from Trelleborg.

Matthews grew up on a sheep and beef station and worked in the agriculture service industry. Barnard entered the industry as a farm assistant in 2003 after attending Taratahi training college, working his way up to farm manager before moving into contract milking in 2014.  

He took 18 months off from farming to work as a zookeeper at Wellington Zoo.

The couple are working towards farm ownership and are excited to be moving into 50/50 sharemilking next season.

They are people-focused and really enjoy working with their large team and seeing them achieve their goals. 

“We have a solid understanding of all the levels of the dairy farming ladder, meaning we can relate to staff well and have built a strong team culture where everyone enjoys coming to work.”

Farming seemed a natural career choice for the couple, who like that hard work is rewarded by the industry.

“We like that the ability to grow and challenge yourself is always there and that we are able to give our three children a rural upbringing.”

The couple believe New Zealand will continue to lead the world in efficient food production and look forward to the ever-continuing advancements in farming.

“We would like to see the general public and New Zealand public proud of farmers again.”

The couple are proud they have turned their income into equity and built assets that they are now using to buy cows for their 50/50 position next season.

Avery, the winner of the 2024 Taranaki Dairy Manager of the Year, is farm manager for Carl and Shey Kowalewski on their 130ha property, milking 300 cows at Midhurst. She won $5000 in prizes and four merit awards. 

The 24-year-old said entering the awards programme has been the best thing she has done for her career. “The feedback that I’ve received from the judges in the past has made me a better farmer and helped me progress through the industry faster.”

Runner-up in the 2024 Taranaki Dairy Manager category was Daniel Warren, who won $2800 and two merit awards.

Third place in the 2024 Taranaki Dairy Manager category was taken out by Jacqui Smith, who won $1700 in prizes.

The winner of the 2024 Taranaki Dairy Trainee of the Year category, Fa’anoi, was encouraged to enter the awards by his employer, Matthew O’Connell.

“Matt encouraged me to enter as he said it would help me develop new skills and also allow for networking within the industry. It most certainly has been a great experience thus far!”

Fa’anoi is 2IC on Simon O’Connell’s 98ha, 330-cow farm in Hawera. He won $6200 in prizes and one merit award.

The 24-year-old grew up in Porirua and holds a Bachelor of Science majoring in environmental science and chemistry.

“I’ve wanted to be a farmer since I was a teenager and watching Country Calendar got me daydreaming about working the land. 

“I used to tag along with a family friend who worked for DeLaval on his deliveries to farms and one day a farmer asked me to walk the cows up – I couldn’t get out of the van fast enough!”

Farm assistant Saffron Astwood placed second in the Dairy Trainee category, and won $1,700 in prizes and one merit award.

Shicaela Kane won third place and is farm assistant for Alpine Rose Ltd on the 300-cow, 95ha Hawera farm. She won $1,200 in prizes and two merit awards.

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