Sunday, 12 May 2024 08:46

Teamwork helps couple win Share Farmer of the Year title

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Manawatu farmers Will Hinton and Kali Rangiawha Manawatu farmers Will Hinton and Kali Rangiawha

Manawatu farmers Will Hinton and Kali Rangiawha have scooped the 2024 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year.

The couple, contract milkers for Tim and Victoria Gorton on their 350-cow, 113ha Halcombe farm, were crowned last night before 500 farmers and industry leaders at Coronet Peak in Queenstown.

The couple attributed their win to their family, farm owners and staff. They won over $55,000 worth of prizes.

Share Farmer category head judge, Michele Cranefield from ANZ says Will and Kali impressed the judges with the strength of their partnership and in the way they balance each other.

“They are a very good team and one could pick up where the other left off,” she says. “They are impressive with numbers and are extremely passionate about the dairy industry, what they're doing and how they're doing it.”

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 studies. 

Kali has worked her way through the industry from farm assistant through to the couple’s current role.

The judges noted that while Will is highly educated and technical, he can convert the technical education into practical applications.

Fellow judge Robert Ervine from Rangiotu, says he learned things from Will and Kali’s presentation. “I consider myself a good grass farmer, but Will explained things so well and put technical terms into good practical English, giving clear and simple demonstrations.”

The judges noted that through the process of the Awards, Will and Kali discovered a creek on their farm, which was like a dry riverbed and now plan to plant the creek to avoid nutrient loss.

“Will is a quick thinker, enabling him to make fast decisions and apply his knowledge to be more efficient,” they said.  “He understands soil types and he farms to the abilities or limitations so the pasture has the right nutrients on the right place.”

“Will isn’t an academic who's gone farming, he gets in and does the work.  As a couple, they are practical, innovative and forward-thinking.

The judges were also impressed by Will and Kali’s community involvement, noting that when they see a need or gap, they step up to fill it. 

“When their local community couldn’t afford a school bus, Will organized a ‘Shear-a-thon’ to raise funds, and when Kali realized there was no AI technician in their area, she trained to become one.”

“They are constantly looking for ways to make positive change, both on and off farm.”

The judges noted all national share farmer finalists were very strong across the board, with knowledge and understanding of the environment and greenhouse gases at a high standard.

“It was a very tight race this year – we are so impressed with all the people we met across all the regions.  If that’s sign of who’s coming through the industry, the industry is in good hands.”

The Runners-up in the Share Farmer of the Year competition are Waikato farmers Logan and Sian Dawson.

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.

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