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2021 Northland Dairy Industry Award Winners Announced

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2021 Northland Dairy Industry Award Winners Announced

09 March 2021

The 2021 Northland Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year is a former police officer who would like to change the opinion of people who criticise the dairy industry without looking at the facts.

Katrina Pearson was named winner of the 2021 Northland Share Farmer of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at Semenoff Stadium in Whangarei on Tuesday night and won $7250 in prizes plus seven merit awards. The other major winners were the 2021 Northland Dairy Manager of the Year Ravindra Maddage Don, and the 2021 Northland Dairy Trainee of the Year Bella Wati.

First-time entrants achieved a clean sweep of first, second and third places across all three categories in Northland.

Katrina entered the Awards programme to grow her knowledge about her own business. “I wanted to improve my skills around manging the business and financial side of the job, rather than just focusing on the practical parts.”

The 32-year-old grew up on her parents’ dairy farm in Titoki and graduated from Lincoln University with a Diploma in Agriculture in 2008, before spending 10 years working as a New Zealand Police Constable.

Katrina is now a contract milker and in an equity partnership, milking 460 cows on Puketitoi Farm Limited’s 186ha property at Purua. She won $7,250 in prizes and seven merit awards.

“There’s always been a pull for me towards the dairy industry,” she says. “ I value my roots and admire what my parents have built for themselves and would love to provide the same upbringing for my kids.”

“Coming into the industry with basic farming knowledge and experience three years ago was a steep learning curve, but strong family support has made the transition easier.”

Katrina believes New Zealand should be proud their dairy farmers produce high-quality product that the world pays a premium for. “We hold a good reputation world-wide and I hope this can be maintained for many years to come.”

“I’d love to see more positive stories in the mainstream media about the dairy industry. If people listened to science, they might discover their opinions are not as accurate as they believe.”

Establishing KDP Farming with her husband David was a big step for the couple, who then added David Pearson Electrical to the mix in 2020. “We are proud that we can run two businesses side-by-side, while raising two great children Emily (5) and Charlotte (4),” says Katrina.

“Being able to juggle everything and still have both businesses operating efficiently is definitely a sign of success to us.”

Katrina believes KDP Farming’s ability to rapidly increase shareholding in Puketitoi Farm Limited stands them in good stead.

“We are all in this together – working with family has been a blessing which has made the transition into the dairy industry enjoyable.”

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown and Westpac, along with industry partner DairyNZ.

Runner-up in the Northland Share Farmer of the Year category was first-time entrant Luke Oud who won $2,500 in prizes and one merit award.

The 34-year-old is 50% sharemilking for Tony and Suzanne Oud, on the 75ha, 196-cow Ruawai property and entered the Awards to extend his knowledge in the farming business.

Luke, together with his wife Sunshine (Sunny), chose farming as a career as they wanted a change of lifestyle from the Australian FIFO mining industry that Luke was working in. “My parents offered us the opportunity to come farming and we took up the offer.”

“I love that every day is different, with its own set of challenges and equally, its own set of rewards.”

Overcoming the challenges relating to a traumatic brain injury from a serious accident has also meant moving forward into sharemilking. Luke feels very content with the career change into the dairy industry and believes his set of skills combined with Sunny’s, has a positive impact on their farming business.

“We both have a strong drive to achieve both short and long-term goals, and value budgeting to ensure our financial stability.”

Future farming goals include adding value to their farming business through self-development and training while continuing to build equity in the farm business.

Luke would like to contribute to changing the public perception of dairy farming and the often-negative mainstream media representation.

“I’m excited about the dairy industry’s actions towards meeting the changing environmental and emission targets and see ourselves encompassing the changes into our farming system and working with the data.”

Winner of the 2021 Northland Dairy Manager of the Year category is 35-year-old Ravindra Maddage Don who is farm manager on Charlie and Emma Adair’s 130ha Whangarei property, milking 354 cows. He won $5,500 in prizes and two merit awards.

Ravindra entered the Awards because he felt it was the right time. “I wanted to understand where I am at the moment which will help me to reach my goal.”

Prior to coming to New Zealand in 2011, Ravindra was working in the Middle East dairy industry.

“I’ve been amazed at the wonderful relationships dairy farmers have with each other in New Zealand,” he says. “There are formal associations and networks for all sorts of aspects of dairying and I’ve discovered that dairy farmers are almost always willing to show you how they do something, tell you what works and what they’d do differently.”

“It doesn’t matter if you sell milk to the same co-op or if you have the same breed of cow or if you have a different brand of milking equipment, the attitude is ‘we’re all in this together’.”

Ravindra acknowledges the challenges of immigration changes however believes that every problem has a solution.

With future farming goals including sharemilking and farm ownership, Ravindra has diversified his income stream and has begun an online business selling his own branded clothing, www.jerze.co, with plans to open two stores.

“One of my biggest strengths is that I will never give up. I’m an easy-going guy who just loves dairy farming.”

Wellsford farm manager Daniel Richards is another first-time entrant to the Awards and is runner-up in the Northland Dairy Manager category, winning $2000 in prizes and two merit awards. Daniel works on Alan and Jody Richards’ 295-cow, 125ha property.

“I’m excited to be part of an already effective industry and having the opportunity as a young person to continue to learn and grow,” he says. “I’d like to improve the public perception of the dairy industry.”

Future farming goals for Daniel include financial stability and raising a family on an economically sustainable dairy farm.

The 23-year-old says the knowledge that there are more good times than hard times in farming helps during challenging situations.

Third placegetter in the Northland Dairy Manager category is Baden Rudkin who is farm manager on Terence and Suzanne Brocx 180-cow, 75ha property at Ohaeawai. He won $1,250 in prizes and two merit awards.

The 33-year-old returned to the dairy industry in 2016, after spending five years as a concrete layer.

“I loved farming from a young age and love looking after animals,” he says.

“I’m excited to be part of the process benefiting from technology and learning how to use it on-farm.”

The Northland Dairy Trainee of the Year is Bella Wati who is Farm Assistant on Puketitoi Farm Limited’s 460-cow, 186ha property at Purua. She won $5,750 in prizes and two merit awards.

The 19-year-old entered the Awards to expand her knowledge within the dairy industry and “just give it a go”.

“I grew up in town and found my passion and love for animals in high school,” Bella explains. “I complete a course through Taratahi and then studied Level 3 Agriculture at NorthTec.”

Some of the challenges Bella has faced include overcoming a spinal injury and building her confidence. “I’d like to see more women in the dairy industry.”

Runner-up in the Northland Dairy Trainee category was Michaela McCracken who is farm assistant on Greg McCracken’s 450ha Wellsford property, milking 370 cows. She won $1,250 in prizes and one merit award.

Michaela grew up on a dairy farm and began working part-time as a farm-hand in January 2020, progressing to a full-time position in March 2020.

“I work on our family farm with cows my family has bred for 50 years, and I love being able to carry that breeding on.”

“I’m excited to see how we can improve and produce better dairy cows in the future through genetics,” says Michaela.

“I have a strong interest in genetics and supplying farmers with top quality bulls that will produce low BW calves that go on to be high-producing cows.”

Creating a good routine has helped Michaela overcome the challenge of sleep deprivation and exhaustion. “The joy of going to the paddock in the morning to get the cows for milking, and tending to them and their needs is what drives me through the hard times.”

“Tomorrow is a new day and a fresh start,” says Michaela. “Remembering what the end outcome will be and how worth it will all be definitely helps.”

Lucas Beeler was third. The 19-year-old is a Farm Assistant on Barry and Heather Bowers’ 180ha Ruawai farm, milking 340 cows. He won $1,250 in prizes.

“I’m excited to see where this industry takes me,” says Lucas. I am very passionate and have the drive to push myself.”

“This means I will work my way through the ranks I’ll I’ve reached my goal of contract milking and sharemilking.”

The Northland Dairy Industry Awards field day will be held on 30 March 2021 at 500 Puketitoi Road

RD6 Purua, Whangarei where Northland Share Farmer of the Year Katrina Pearson contract milks, beginning at 10.30am. Also presenting at the field day will be the region’s Dairy Manager of the Year, Ravindra Maddage Don and Dairy Trainee of the Year, Bella Wati. Further details on the winners and the field day can be found at www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz.


Share Farmer Merit Awards:

· DairyNZ Human Resources Award – Katrina Pearson
· Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award - Katrina Pearson
· Federated Farmers Leadership Award – Luke Oud
· Honda Farm Safety, Health and Biosecurity Award – Katrina Pearson
· LIC Recording and Productivity Award - Katrina Pearson
· Meridian Farm Environment Award – Katrina Pearson
· Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Katrina Pearson
· Westpac Business Performance Award – Katrina Pearson

Dairy Manager Merit

· Whitelaw Weber Employee Engagement Award – Baden Rudkin
· Webb Ross McNab Kilpatrick Leadership Award – Daniel Richards
· Northern Wairoa Vet Club Association Ltd Feed Management Award – Daniel Richards
· DeLaval Livestock Management Award – Ravindra Maddage Don
· Fonterra Dairy Management Award – Baden Rudkin
· NZDIA Power Play Award – Jared Sione Lauaki
· Westpac Personal Planning and Financial Management Award – Ravindra Maddage Don

Dairy Trainee Merit Awards:

· NorthTec Farming Knowledge Award – Bella Wati
· Pacific Motor Group Community & Industry Involvement Award – Michaela McCracken
· Northland Fieldays Communication & Engagement Award – Bella Wati
· DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Ezra Houltham