12 September 2017
2010 was a significant year for New Zealand, with the Pike River Mine disaster and the first Christchurch earthquake being the biggest news events of the year. HRH Prince William visited in January and cooked a BBQ with Prime Minister John Key, who was in his second year of office, and the World Rowing Champs were held at Lake Karapiro.
2010 was also the year a young herd manager from Otago named Blake Korteweg entered the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards and won the Southland-Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year competition. Later that year at the national awards gala dinner in Rotorua, Blake was named the 2010 Dairy Trainee of the Year.
It was the first time Blake had entered the Awards.
“I entered to get a benchmark of where I was at compared to others at my level and also to get my name out there for future potential jobs,” he said.
The win gave Blake the confidence to pursue career goals and reassured him that he was on the right track.
Blake believes that the win provided valuable career opportunities, but that it is still up to the individual to use it as a springboard for career progression.
“I used it especially to help network and mix with some of the top people in the industry.
“These people want to help and have lots of knowledge to give.
“The win gave me a boost of confidence to take the next step.”
The next step for Blake saw him progress to 20% share milking on the same farm, building equity along the way, then move to 30% share milking for two seasons. His continued career progression required relocating to Southland onto a 500 cow farm 50/50 sharemilking, where he currently lives.
Blake believes that the Awards programme accelerated his learning and growth.
“If I hadn't won I think maybe I would still be where I am now, but it's certainly made the progression easier,” he said.
“The biggest thing the Awards gave me was boost of enthusiasm for the industry and the opportunities to put me amongst the people I needed around me to help guide and push me to progress.”
The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards encompass the Share Farmer of the Year, Dairy Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions and are supported by national sponsors Westpac, DairyNZ, DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra Farm Source, Honda Motorcycles, LIC, Meridian Energy and Ravensdown, along with industry partner Primary ITO.
Entries for the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards open in October and Blake feels the competition remains relevant and valid today.
“I would encourage anyone at any stage in their career to enter.
“I’ve not yet heard of anyone who hasn't gained something by entering, even if it's a new farming friend.”
Blake’s advice to potential entrants is clear and simple – put your best foot forward, be yourself and have a clear understanding of what you do and why you do it.
He also encourages people to attend an awards evening, with the memories of his first one still very clear.
“Just come and see what it's all about.
“Listening and meeting some of the positive and top people in our industry is quite inspiring.”
More information, entry criteria and regional dates can be found at www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz