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Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Award winners announced

This year, Auckland/Hauraki Share Farmer, Dairy Manager and Dairy Trainee entrant scores were benchmarked against the national average, with data collated from the 10 other regions.

This means merit awards are awarded if the entrant achieved at the right level.

Traditionally, when a region has low entrant numbers, places are only offered to winner and runner-up, or just the winner only, and when entrant numbers were very low, the category did not proceed.

However, with entrants wanting to take part in the Awards programme and benefiting from doing so, not allowing them to participate goes against the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards’ philosophy and what the programme is striving to achieve.

That approach also forces a winner of the category when the entrant may not be ready to progress to Nationals.

Teagan Gray was named the 2024 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at the Thames Civic Centre on Thursday night. The other major winner was the 2024 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee of the Year Emma Williamson.

While there was no Share Farmer category winner, the judges awarded Runner up to Brad & Courtney Edwards and third placegetter to Casey Meiklejohn.

Brad and Courtney are 50/50 sharemilking for Maureen Martinovich on her 90ha, 240-cow property at Ngatea. They won $6,525 in prizes and two merit awards.

“We entered the Awards as we thought it was a good opportunity to showcase our business and to know the ins and outs of our business and how we run it compared to others,” they say.

The 23-year-olds are both active in the community with hockey and Hauraki Young Farmers, where Courtney is Vice Chair.

Their two young sons motivate them to achieve their goals. “We’ve worked our butts off to get where we are today and are proud we achieved a 50/50 sharemilking role at a young age.”

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors CowManager, DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda, LIC, Meridian, Ravensdown, and Trelleborg, along with industry partners DairyNZ, MediaWorks and Rural Training Solutions NZ.

Third placegetter in the Share Farmer category was awarded to Casey Meiklejohn. She won $4,400 and three merit awards.

Casey is contract milking for Jamie Lyons on his 88ha, 222-cow Mangatawhiri farm.

Teagan Gray was presented the 2024 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager of the year trophy by Trelleborg, and won $9,325 in prizes and five merit awards. She was third placegetter in the same category last year.

She is a farm manager on Neil and Glenda Gray’s 160ha Thames farm, milking 478 cows.

In her second season as farm manager, Teagan began working on the farm in 2016 as a farm assistant.

The fifth generation of the Gray family to manage the farm, she cites a united vision for the farm and good infrastructure as two strengths of the business.

The 33-year-old holds a Bachelor of Agriscience from Massey University and believes the dairy industry could do better with accepting females into high management roles.

“You often have to work twice as hard to prove you are capable of the same opportunities on-farm,” she says. “I hope I can be a positive influence for other women coming through the industry, the dairy farming is a sustainable career for females.”

Teagan believes farmers are in a unique position where they don’t have to compete with neighbouring farmers for the price of their milk.

“It means it costs us nothing to help other people and create a positive environment to encourage others and make the industry a more attractive option for young people.”

She says it is exciting to be part of an industry that is leading the world in producing dairy products that provide valuable nutrition to people around the world.

“It starts with us looking after our cows and land the best we can and running a sustainable business that makes the most of the resources we have.”

“The industry is always changing and adapting to new information and technology to make better choices and do things more sustainably,” says Teagan.

“As long as we keep adapting, New Zealand will maintain its status as world leaders in dairy farming.”

Steven Pratt was named Runner-up of the 2024 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager category and is very proud to be providing food on a global basis.

He views the Awards programme as a way of promoting responsible dairy farming at a manager’s level.

Steven holds a Bachelor of Agriculture from Lincoln University and is farm manager on David and Paula Pratt’s 170ha, 430-cow Patetonga property. He won $2,600 in prizes.

“I’m proud to be working on the farm that has been in our family for 110 years and aim to keep it as a sustainable and viable business.”

The 32-year-old plans to continue to produce food for a growing global population and is excited ab out thew new technology and innovation that is being developed.

Third placegetter in the 2024 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager category went to Owen Clifford.

He is farm manager for Ross and Tracey Laing on their 200ha, 500-cow Waerenga property and won $1,525 and one merit award.

The winner of the 2024 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee of the Year category, presented by Trelleborg, is Emma Williamson a first-time entrant who entered the Awards programme to gain experience, take herself out of her comfort zone and meet like-minded people.

Emma initially began training in sheep and beef through Taratahi Agricultural Centre and worked as shepherd for a few years then studied education, gaining a Diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education.

“I entered the dairy industry in 2020 and see myself using all the new research in the future, improving the quality of milking and discovering what works to get the best benefits from the farm.”

“There’s so much development in animal health and reproduction too.”

Emma is 2IC on Craig and Kathy Maxwell’s 274ha Paparimu farm, milking 450 cows, working for 2017 Share Farmer winners Fraser and Amber Carpenter. She won $6,500 in prizes and two merit awards.

The 24-year-old says the cows and caring for them get her up and out of bed in the mornings. “Farming isn’t a job for me, it’s a passion that drives me during the hard times.”

“I make myself look out from the hills and think how lucky I am to have space and see the sunrise every morning.”

Caitlin Snodgrass was named runner-up in the 2024 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee category and won $1,400 in prizes. She is farm assistant on Stu and Karen Davey’s 200ha, 566-cow Morrinsville property.

The first-time entrant was encouraged to experience the Awards by peers in the Hauraki Young Farmers club and her employers, Brendan and Tessa Hopson, who were 2020 Share Farmer category winners.

“I realised how great the opportunity was to network, review what skills I’ve gained and discover where next to focus my attention.”

“I was so nervous to enter the Awards being fresh to farming but I’m thrilled I just gave it a go!”

Third placegetter in the Dairy Trainee category was awarded to Katie Rope who is 2IC assistant manager on Ashley and Ayna Thomas’ 115ha, 450-cow Pukekawa property.

The Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards field day will be held on 26th March at 10.30am, 142 Hopai Road West Ngatea S/N Synlait 5250. Further details on the winners and the field day can be found at www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz.

Share Farmer Merit Awards:

  • DairyNZ – People & Culture Award Casey Meiklejohn

  • Federated Farmers Leadership Award Brad & Courtney Edwards

  • LIC – Animal Wellbeing, Recording and Productivity Award Casey Meiklejohn

  • Meridian Environmental Sustainability Award Casey Meiklejohn

  • Diprose Miller Business Performance Award Brad & Courtney Edwards

Dairy Manager Merit

  • DeLaval Livestock Management Award Teagan Gray

  • Fonterra Dairy Management Award Teagan Gray

  • BlackmanSpargo Rural Law Ltd Environmental Sustainability Award Owen Clifford

  • Pioneer Pasture & Feed Management Award Teagan Gray

  • Brandt People & Leadership Award Teagan Gray

  • CowManager Personal Planning & Financial Management Award Teagan Gray

Dairy Trainee Merit Awards:

  • DairyNZ Practical Skills Award Emma Williamson

  • Auckland/Hauraki DIA Emerging Talent Award Gulab Singh

  • Franklin Vets Farming Knowledge Award Emma Williamson

  • Taylor Bros Communication & Industry Involvement Award Katie Roper

 

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