Wednesday, 22 May 2024 08:55

Dairy's cream of the crop crowned on Coronet Peak

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Will Hinton and Kali Rangiawha, Manawatu were named the 2024 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year. Will Hinton and Kali Rangiawha, Manawatu were named the 2024 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year.

Coronet Peak, Queenstown, was the venue for the 2024 NZ Dairy Industry Awards.

About 500 farmers and industry leaders and politicians converged for the annual event where the dairy sector's cream of the crop gets rewarded for their efforts and achievements.

Will Hinton and Kali Rangiawha from Manawatū were named the 2024 New Zealand Sharefarmers of the Year, Northland's Kieran McCahon the 2024 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year, and Kirwyn Ellis, Waikato, the 2024 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. They shared prizes from a pool worth over $200,000.

James and Debbie Stewart, Manawatū, were the recipients of the Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award, while Paul and Sarah Koopal, Central Plateau, won the Cow Manager cow monitoring system for three years.

Accepting his award, Will Hinton referred to a saying that "On the road to achieving your dreams, you must apply discipline and consistency".

"Because without commitment, you'll never start, and without consistency, you'll never finish," Hinton said.

Before entering the awards, all the couple dreamed of was being sharemilkers. But the awards proces has opened their horizon to farm ownership, with a 10-year plan that holds them accountable to key targets.

"Thank you to NZ Dairy Awards for broadening our horizon," he said.

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 they left off," Cranefield says. "They are impressive with numbers and are extremely passionate about the dairy industry, what they're doing and how they're doing it."

The couple are contract milkers for Tim and Victoria Gorton on their 350-cow, 113ha Halcombe farm.

The Stewarts from Dairylands received the John Wilson Memorial Trophy. The award, which received more than 20 nominations across all regions this year, was created to recognise and celebrate dairy farmers who demonstrate leadership in their approach to sustainability and who are passionate about the four pillars of Responsible Dairying - people and community, finance, environment and animal welfare.

James and Debbie Stewart 2 FBTW

James and Debbie Stewart from Manawatu won the Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award.

The judging panel were amazed by the work done by the Stewarts.

"We were left with one big question following our time with Debbie and James - what more could anyone do to demonstrate the notion of 'responsible dairying'?" says head panellist Michael Hide.

"Their passion, professionalism and leadership within the industry across all aspects of their business is beyond impressive and only surpassed by their dedication to giving back to their local community."

DairyNZ chief executive, Campbell Parker, who attended the awards, noted that the winners have a lot in common, including a passion for farming, innovation and positive change.

Parker says the winners are all forward-thinking and contribute strongly to a positive future for New Zealand dairy farming.

"It's fantastic to see the awards acknowledging top Kiwi dairy farmers and their hard work and dedication at the heart of their communities," Campbell says.

"These farmers are future proofing their businesses to remain resilient while continuing to produce sustainable and competitive milk."

Kieran McCahon FBTW

2024 Dairy Manager of the Year Kieran McCahon.

NZDIA Trust chair Paulette Johns told the awards night that it was "unashamedly a celebration".

"Taking a moment out of everyone's busy lives to focus on all the positives of dairy. To recognise and appreciate the efforts and achievements of our entrants, regional and national committees, management team, study tour hosts, judges, trustees and of course our valued and crucial sponsors. Knowing what is involved at each of the levels and how much hard work is required, I personally would like to express my deepest gratitude for all that you do.

"As always, this year's group of finalists have reminde us of why we farm. Their enthusiasm for the future of dairy is infectious. With their can-do attitude and our guidance, we will lean into the constant stream of change and challenge that our industry faces and not only survive but thrive. It is likely many will become tomorrow's leaders."

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