Friday, 14 May 2021 06:55

Digital connection unites farmers

Written by  Staff Reporters
Tangaroa Walker Tangaroa Walker

Dairy farming can be rather isolating at times, particularly in Southland, so farmer Tangaroa Walker turned online to build a like-minded community.

His online training and educational platform, Farm4Life, is now connecting farmers all over Aotearoa and the world with a sense of humour and eagerness to lift the level of knowledge in the industry.

First entering the industry as a bright-eyed 14-year-old, he now runs a 500-cow farm. While he personally had a lot of support from the Southland community, Walker realised there was an opportunity to build connections wider than just his immediate friends and help others into the world of dairy.

Turning to digital channels, including Facebook, his videos now have attracted millions of views and his humble, engaging and charismatic personality has attracted a wide audience.

However, being on a farm in Southland, one of his biggest struggles was trying to get good internet connectivity.

"I was driving down the road to upload my video content every night and it was bloody frustrating," says Walker. While good connectivity was needed to run his on-farm business, including managing health and safety, it was essential to be able to maintain Farm4Life online.

Using the power of social media, Walker put out a request for telcos to get his connectivity fixed. Farmside came to the rescue and set up a Rural Wireless Broadband connection with an external aerial.

"They got my internet set up within a couple of days. Living rurally means mobile coverage can be a challenge at times, so I was stoked that Farmside was able to help out. It's been gamechanging for me in running Farm4Life and means I can focus on building the community and sharing advice with other farmers - instead of wasting time finding a signal."

Farmside is a rural wireless broadband provider, and part of the Vodafone network, based in Timaru with a fully New Zealand call centre with specialists ready to help with connectivity challenges.

Jason Sharp, general manager for Farmside, says the company is committed to helping farmers to do what they do best by taking care of the connectivity side of things.

"Farmers are busy people. Tangaroa might be a dairy farmer and a content creator, primarily, but really he is also a part-time builder, plumber, electrician, engineer, truck driver, vet, accountant, employer, employee and primary ITO trainee. This all takes time and we wanted to take care of his internet connectivity, so he casn focus on helping other Kiwi farmers to be the best they can.

"We work with the Rural Connectivity Group and other providers such as satellite to offer rural Kiwis the ability to be connected. Vodafone is also investing hundreds of millions of dollars into building and upgrading cell sites around Aotearoa to respond to the increased use of technology during Covid-19 and beyond."

Check out Walker's videos on www.farm4life.co.nz.

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