Former Fonterra chairman John Wilson passed away this morning after a hard-fought battle with illness, the co-op announced.
New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Enda and Sarah Hawe, New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year, Mick O'Connor, and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year, Nathan Christian, will attend the Fieldays near Hamilton next week.
It will be the first time at Fieldays for the Hawes and O'Connor, while Christian is originally from Hamilton and has attended previously. All three are currently farming in Canterbury.
"I'm really looking forward to it. I like meeting people and we have a pretty full programme of activities lined up," Hawe says. "I've been to the A&P show and the National Ploughing Champs in Ireland so I'm expecting the Fieldays will be pretty high octane stuff."
He says winning the award had created a lot of interest, including from his homeland, Ireland. Three Irish newspapers as well as radio breakfast and farming shows had interviewed him.
"I am very conscious about where I come from and that the success is important for my parents too. I have come a long way from a little dairy farm in Ireland."
The Hawes are now 50% sharemilking 650 cows in Canterbury.
National convenor Chris Keeping says it has become a tradition for the winners to attend Fieldays.
"They really enjoy the chance to get together and share experiences since their win, and meet with sponsors and industry representatives. Over time they will recognise the experiences they gain and people they meet from their awards win can present unique opportunities and change for them," Keeping says.
The Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, DairyNZ, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda Motorcycles NZ, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown and RD1, along with industry partner AgITO.