16 March 2019
The 2019 Hawkes Bay Wairarapa Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners are in their second season contract milking and say the transition from study into full-time farming has been one of their biggest challenges.
Hamish Hammond and Rachel Gardner were named the 2019 Hawkes Bay Wairarapa Share Farmers of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at the Copthorne Hotel and Resort in Masterton last night. The other major winners were Nicholas Verhoek, the 2019 Hawkes Bay Wairarapa Dairy Manager of the Year, and Matthew McDougall, the 2019 Hawkes Bay Wairarapa Dairy Trainee of the Year.
Hamish and Rachel, aged 28 and 24 years respectively, entered the dairy industry as contract milkers in June 2017, after completing more than five years study at Massey University. Rachel holds a Bachelor of Animal Science and Agricultural Science, and a Master of Science (Animal Science), while Hamish holds a BAgriCom (Hons) and a Master of AgriCommerce.
“The transition into full-time farming was a challenge,” they say. “The change in hours, the physical and mental strain.”
The couple contract milk 630 cows for Stephen and Marie Hammond and Irene Hammond, on their 173ha property at Greytown. They won $7,320 in prizes and won four merit awards.
Hamish and Rachel entered the Share Farmer competition to challenge themselves and increase their knowledge of their business. “The process made us question ourselves as to why we are doing things the way we are.”
The couple say their strengths are the structure of their business and their team. “We contract milk with one of the farm owners which provides us more opportunity and scope to grow in the future.”
“It also ensures that all decisions made will equally benefit the farm owners and the contract milkers.”
The couple credit their small team with having a good mix of practical and theoretical knowledge. “Everyone knows how to do everything, and we have good communication so that we all know what is happening from day-to-day.”
Future farming goals for Hamish and Rachel include becoming equity partners with the farm business or 50/50 sharemilkers. “We will either continue working on the farm, or work in off-farm roles and oversee the farming business.”
Runners-up in the Share Farmer competition were Nick and Rose Bertram who are is 50/50 sharemilkers on Barry and Carol McNeil’s 150ha, 440-cow Woodville property. They won $4,820 in prizes and two merit awards.
Nick (31), won the 2014 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and says entering the Awards programme has opened many doors and job opportunities. “Along the way we have also made life-long friends with past entrants and we have grown as leaders,” he says.
Entering as a sharemilker this time has made us benchmark our business and examine every aspect of our operation.”
Nick and Rose (26) believe the foundation of their business lies in thinking of themselves as business people and not ‘just farmers’. “We put a huge amount of effort in to ensure we enjoy what we do, that our work and family life balance and that stress levels are managed.”
Third placegetters in the Share Farmer competition were Scott and Kirstin Mathis who pride themselves on developing and maintain great relationships with employers, owners, neighbours, industry professionals and the communities we live in.
“Developing relationships with people provided the opportunity to lease an 80ha block next door to the dairy farm which we have been able to use to grow our equity and establish our herd.”
Scott (22) and Kirstin (28) contract milk for Dean Nikora on his 119ha, 330-cow Waipukurau property and say their staff team all play a role in the farm success. “Successful people are surrounded by successful staff,” they say. “By helping in the development and growth of our team we are able to achieve goals and boost farm performance.” They won $3,820 in prizes and one merit award.
The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda Motorcycles, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown and Westpac, along with industry partners DairyNZ and Primary ITO.
The 2019 Hawkes Bay Wairarapa Dairy Manager of the Year, Nicholas Verhoek is no stranger to the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards. He was 2013 Hawkes Bay Wairarapa Dairy Trainee of the Year and was the runner-up in the 2018 Dairy Manager category. He won $5,520 in prizes plus three merit awards.
“There are numerous benefits to entering the Awards,” says Nicholas. “Growing our business, accountability, goal setting, progression and networking as well as industry awareness and knowledge.”
“Although my wife Kirsty is not employed by Willowpark, without her this business would not be as profitable and successful as it currently is,” he says.
Nicholas (33) is Farm Manager for Selwyn and Jenny McLachlan on their 210ha, 920-cow Masterton property. Future farming goals include a long-term, large-scale sharemilking role and farm ownership. “I’m also very interested in moving into governance or politics in the agricultural space.”
Runner-up in the Dairy Manager category was 29-year-old Damon Ashworth winning $2,770 in prizes and one merit award. Damon is farm manager on Louis and Barbara Kuriger’s and Lloyd Harris’ 296ha, 650-cow Woodville property.
A former engineer, Damon has been working in the dairy industry for eight years. “I’m an outside person and I love animals so farming fitted the bill perfectly.”
Together with his wife Nykita, the Ashworths have four children ranging in age from 5 months to 10 years. “I’m proud we are able to grow our family and run a farm successfully without compromising quality in either,” says Damon. “Family is number one always.”
The third placegetter in the Dairy Manager category believes in giving people room to take on responsibility as well as matching their strengths to the role.
28-year-old Derek de Jong is herd manager for Sandie Shivas’ NEER Enterprises 135ha, 430-cow farm at Masterton. He won $1,566 in prizes and one merit award.
The 2019 Hawkes Bay Wairarapa Dairy Trainee of the Year is 22-year-old Matthew McDougall, who
is currently a Farm Assistant on Stuart Cordell’s 165ha, 530-cow farm at Dannevirke. He won $5,414 in prizes and four merit awards. Matthew was placed third in the 2018 Dairy Trainee category.
Matthew steps up into a manager’s role next season and hopes to be sharemilking in 5-10 years. “I have a passion for the outdoors,” he says. “I love working with animals and my hands so I could not think of a better job.”
Matthew feels that over time in the various roles he has had in his career, he has developed his time-management skills. “They weren’t the best to begin with.”
His interests include hunting, diving, playing and refereeing rugby. He is also chairman of the Dannevirke Young Farmers Club and a recruit firefighter for the Dannevirke Volunteer Fire Brigade.
Woodville 2IC Charlotte Oram, aged 23 years, was second in the Dairy Trainee competition, winning $1,618 in prizes and one merit award.
Charlotte says the benefits of entering the Awards include “discovering how much you actually do know, and also gaining so much confidence.”
20-year old Assistant Manager Angus Hamilton was third. He works for Tom and Gerald Wilson on their 300ha, 800-cow Tikokino property.
The Hawkes Bay Wairarapa Dairy Industry Awards field day will be held on 11 April 2019 at 10.30am at 120 Papwai Road, Greytown, where Share Farmers of the Year, Hamish Hammond and Rachel Gardner, contract milk. Also presenting at the field day will be the region’s Dairy Manager of the Year, Nicholas Verhoek and Dairy Trainee of the Year, Matthew McDougall. 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 – Liam & Margot Richardson
• Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Kirstin & Scott Mathis
• Federated Farmers Leadership Award – Nicholas & Rosemarie Bertram
• Honda Farm Safety, Health & Biosecurity Award – Nicholas & Rosemarie Bertram
• LIC Recording & Productivity Award – Hamish Hammond and Rachel Gardner
• Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award – Hamish Hammond and Rachel Gardner
• Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Hamish Hammond and Rachel Gardner
• Westpac Business Performance Award - Hamish Hammond and Rachel Gardner
Dairy Manager Merit Awards:
• Moore Stephens Markhams Ltd Employee Engagement Award – Nicholas Verhoek
• Vet Services Leadership Award – Damon Ashworth
• Hawkes Bay Wairarapa DIA Feed Management Award – Nicholas Verhoek
• Fonterra Dairy Management Award – Kelli Pailthorpe
• DeLaval Livestock Management Award – Nicholas Verhoek
• Primary ITO Power Play Award – Dan Phillips
• Westpac Financial Management & Planning Award – Derek de Jong
Dairy Trainee Merit Awards:
• Irrigation Services Most Promising Entrant- Charlotte Oram
• TFM Tractors Farming Knowledge Award – Matthew McDougall
• T.H. Enterprises Ltd Communication & Engagement Award – Matthew McDougall
• Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa DIA Community & Industry Involvement Award – Matthew McDougall
• DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Matthew McDougall