Career Takes Off for Coast Dairy Awards Winners

Tuesday 29 March 2011, 8:25AM
By NZ Dairy Industry Awards


The young winners of the 2011 West Coast Top of the South Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year contest have progressed in their career and in the Dairy Industry Awards.

Caleb and Claire Ford, aged 24 and 26, placed third in the Canterbury Farm Manager of the Year contest last year, but switched regions to progress their career. The couple is now lower order sharemilking 600 cows for Mike and Bernie Havill at Ahaura, near Greymouth.

Their win at the West Coast Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards held at Shanty Town, near Greymouth, last night was worth $11,500 in cash and prizes. The 2011 West Coast Top of the South Farm Manager of the Year, George Groenewald, and 2011 West Coast Top of the South Dairy Trainee of the Year, Adam Boaz, was also announced.

The Fords have been dairy farming for seven years, and are focused on building stock numbers and equity to continue their progression in the industry.

“One of our strengths is our strong forward planning and goal setting ability. We both are always looking for ways to improve our knowledge base going forward and we’re also working towards the same long term goals of farm ownership and success within the industry.”

The couple is also active off the farm, enjoying hunting, fishing, gardening and sporting activities. They also participate in Young Farmers and attend discussion groups.

Second place in the sharemilker/equity farmer contest went to Reefton lower order sharemilkers Danny King and Kate Hands, winning $5000, and Whataroa 50% sharemilkers David and Katrina Simpson were third, winning $2500.

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 Agriculture ITO.

A dream became reality for 2011 West Coast Top of the South Farm Manager of the Year George Groenewald, who won $8400 in cash and prizes.

“I entered the awards for the first time this year as it has always been our dream to take part in it. We see it as a great challenge and an opportunity at the same time to excel our dairy career.”

Born in South Africa, Mr Groenewald was raised on a dairy farm there before heading to the United States in 2000 to work in its dairy industry. He and wife Antoinette arrived in New Zealand in 2003 and have worked their way up the industry to be managing an 800-cow Westport farm for brothers Maurice and John O’Brien.

“I am a third generation dairy farmer and have done eight years of dairying now in New Zealand. We are very happy here.”

The couple plans to purchase their own farm, and is building stock numbers to go 50% sharemilking. They are also striving for a high Breeding Worth herd. “We love breeding good cows.”

A former soldier has become the 2011 West Coast Top of the South Dairy Trainee of the Year. Thirty-year-old Adam Boaz swapped warzones for dairy farming in 2008 and is in his third season assisting on a 180-cow Takaka farm for Brian Nesbit.

With stints in East Timor and Iraq, Mr Boaz is now focused on moving up the dairy ladder. He plans to manage the farm he is on before moving on to a larger enterprise.

It was the third time he had entered the awards, this time pocketing $5500 in prizes.

Tapawera 18-year-old farm assistant Michael Shearer placed second in the trainee contest, winning $500, and Rochelle Roberts, a 24year-old Dobson farmer was third, winning $250.

All three winners will now compete for the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year titles and a prize pool of more than $130,000 in Queenstown on May 14.

West Coast Top of the South Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year Caleb and Claire Ford will host a field day on April 12, while West Coast Top of the South Farm Manager of the Year George Groenewald will host a field day on the Westport farm he manages on April 14. Further details on the winners and field days can be found on

Sharemilker/Equity Farmer Merit Awards:
DairyNZ Human Resources Award – Danny King & Kate Hands
Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Caleb & Claire Ford
Federated Farmers of New Zealand Leadership Award – Jason Deboo & Andrea Harvey
Honda Farm Safety and Health Award – Danny King & Kate Hands
LIC Recording and Productivity Award – Caleb & Claire Ford
Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award – Danny King & Kate Hands
Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Caleb & Claire Ford
Westpac Business Performance Award – David & Katrina Simpson

Farm Manager Merit Awards:
Murchison Farm First Time Entrant Award – Marion Thomas
Essential Nutrition Farm Pride and Presentation Award – George Groenewald
DairyNZ Human Resource Management Award – Hayden George
RD1 Farm Management Award – George Groenewald
Westpac Financial Planning and Management Award – George Groenewald

Dairy Trainee Merit Award:
Farming Knowledge Merit Award – Adam Boaz