Ashburton couple Jonathon and Stacey Hoets won the 2023 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards but their Mid Canterbury farming peers also took out top three placings across the awards categories.
Ashburton farm manager Rajat Kumar, 36, placed second in the Dairy Manager category of the Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards, winning $2,375 in prizes and one merit award.
It was won by Jack Symes, of Southbridge. Rangiora farm manager Mahraaz Hussein placed third.
Rajat is currently working on Pete Williams’ 232ha property, milking 950 cows, and credits the New Zealand dairy industry with helping him find his place in this country and grow as a person.
“I will keep farming as a long as I can,” he said.
The second-time entrant holds a Master in Business from Panjab University in India, as well as Primary ITO Level 4 and Diploma in Business Level 6.
“I am still learning and I think I will always want to keep learning, as there is so much knowledge to gain!”
Future farming goals include contract milker with a longterm goal of farm ownership.
In the 2023 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year category Ashburton farm assistant Abby Cook, 22, took out the runner up title. It was won by Brayden Johnston, at Oxford. Hamish Kidd, 23, of Carew, was third.
Abby works on the Tait Family Trust 253ha 800-cow farm at Ashburton.
She grew up on a dairy farm in Southland until her father passed away in 2009, and the family moved back to the Waikato.
“I grew up with farm chat around the dinner table, but I never had the hands-on experience.”
Abby holds a Bachelor of Applied Science majoring in Pharmacology and Forensics, from University of Otago and is an inaugural participant on the Dairy Management Graduate Programme, which had an aim of training young people straight out of university to be capable of managing within a year.
“DairyGrads has played a huge part in how much I have learnt in the last 12 months,” Abby said.
“Learning about everything from people management to pasture management to financial development in the industry the range was huge and the networks and knowledge is invaluable.”
The first-time entrant entered the awards programme to challenge herself and meet new people in the industry.
“The first challenge in starting my dairy career was moving to awhole new and unfamiliar part of the country,” Abby said.
“To overcome this I threw myself at every social event, get-together and meet up I could find.”
Future farming goals include farm ownership.
“I believe growing up on a farm helps to nurture hardworking values, active-outdoor spirits and love for the land and animals.”
Fellow Ashburton farmers Sam and Shannon Lovelock won third place in the Canterbury/North Otago share farmer of the year category. The title was won by Stacey and Jonathon Hoets. Runners up were Reuben and Jaden Christian, at Leeston.
The Lovelocks, who entered the competition to network with other people in the industry, said as innovative people they felt the awards programme had been an excellent opportunity to examine their whole business from the inside-out, and the outside-in.
The couple are contract milkers over two properties for Leighton and Michelle Pye on their (combined) 330ha Ashburton properties, milking 1320 cows. They won $3,500 in prizes and three merit awards.