Friday, 01 March 2024 10:28

Dairy industry awards regional finals underway

Written by  Staff Reporters
Will Hinton and Kali Rangiawha. Will Hinton and Kali Rangiawha.

Manawatu became the first region to announce its finalists for the 2024 Dairy Industry Awards.

At the regional finals last night, Will Hinton and Kali Rangiawha were named 2024 Manawatū Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmers of the Year category at the region’s annual awards announced in Palmerston North on Thursday evening. The other major winners were Luke Ackerman, the 2024 Manawatū Dairy Manager of the Year, and Isabella Panettiere, the 2024 Manawatū Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Will and Kali were presented the coveted trophy by Nikki Watson from Trelleborg and won $11,000 in prizes and four merit awards.  They are contract milkers for Tim and Victoria Gorton on their 350-cow, 113ha Halcombe farm.

Born in the UK, Will holds a BSc Agricultural Business Management from Reading University and a National Diploma in Agriculture from Lackham College. He built a farming partnership with his dad comprising 500 sheep and 30 cows. 

After travelling the world as a shearer, he landed in New Zealand, where he worked as a farm consultant and data analyst for two and a half years.

He met Kali who had realised dairy farming was her future while relief milking to fund her university degree.  “I’ve farmed in three countries with herds ranging from 160-1000 cows and am proud I’ve worked my way through the industry from farm assistant to contract milker,” she says.

The future of the dairy industry looks bright to the couple who believe the progression ladder in the dairy industry is very clear and attracts farmers from around the world. “We are excited to be climbing towards the top of the progression ladder.”

The couple enjoy the lifestyle farming brings them and their three children including working outside year-round.  “Calving season is my most enjoyable season as every day is different, you’re always busy and the satisfaction you feel from saving a down cow or helping a cow calve is next-to-none,” says Will. 

Achieving a work/life balance has proved challenging with sourcing reliable staff, however the couple have now become accredited employers and are looking forward to employing someone full-time.  “The accreditation attracts some of the best workers from all over the world.”

The 2024 Manawatū Dairy Manager of the Year is Luke Ackerman who won $5,450 in prizes and three merit awards.

The first-time entrant is herd manager on James Stewart’s 180ha, 383-cow property in Ashhurst and saw the Awards programme as great opportunity to network with like-minded people and grow his support network.

A qualified mechanic, Luke worked in the automotive industry for 15 years and began working in the dairy industry three years ago.  “I wanted our family to grow up on a farm and have the lifestyle I did as a farm kid,” he says.

The 2024 Manawatū Dairy Trainee of the Year is Isabella Panettiere, who is herd manager on Fonterra’s 255ha, 630-cow Longburn farm. She won $7,350 in prizes and two merit awards.

 The first-time entrant considered the Awards programme an excellent way to benchmark her current skills and where she sits within the industry.  “I want to progress my skills and network so I can continue to move forward in my career and it’s an amazing opportunity to do so.”

Isabella holds a Bachelor of Science majoring in Animal Science from Massey University and completed the LIC Artificial Insemination course.  She is currently studying towards PrimaryITO Level 3 Livestock Feeding.

All regional finalists will converge in Queenstown in May for the national finals.

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