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Going For The Goal

Going For The Goal

The fact Waikato sharemilkers Tom and Leanne Heneghan were due to give birth to their first child this month didn’t come in the way of pursuing one of their key business goals: to have another go at the Dairy Industry Awards.

Tom and Leanne, 50:50 sharemilkers milking 305 cows in Morrinsville, attracted media attention when as first time entrants for the Sharemilker of the Year category in the awards last year they were married between the first and second rounds of judging.

Waikato regional convenor Kerry Lucas-Candy says the couple narrowly missed out as finalists, but gained so much from the experience, they were determined to give it another go.

“They said they gained so much knowledge and valuable feedback from the judging process and having the judges on their farm they knew that they had everything to gain and nothing to lose by coming back for another try.”

Kerry and husband Hugh Candy themselves benefited enormously from the experience as entrants. They not only won the Waikato title but went on to become New Zealand Sharemilkers of the Year in 2004. They remain closely involved in the awards both as convenors for the Waikato region and as part of the national management committee.

“The benefits of being part of the awards’ programme continue long after you’ve been through the entrant process,” Kerry says. “Hugh and I have met so many farmers from different areas that we might never have been in contact with and we all learn from each other.”

Leanne Heneghan says despite the imminent birth of their first child, she and Tom never contemplated bailing from the awards programme.

“Our experience last year was so positive, we learned a huge amount from the judges and we now know what they’re looking for. It’s our second year as 50:50 sharemilkers so we are able to provide better records.

“It never crossed our mind not to give it another go this year. You can go through life putting things off and making excuses. But we know this is really important to us and our business.”

The Heneghans have been supported in their entry by farm owner Maurice Semmens.

Kerry Lucas Candy says like other farm owners whose managers and sharemilkers enter the Farm Manager of the Year and Sharemilker of the Year, Mr Semmens clearly recognises the benefits of their employees and farm partners in improving their skills and learning through the awards process.

“We hope even more farm owners will follow his lead and make an effort to encourage participation,” she says.

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards comprise Dairy Trainee of the Year, Farm Manager of the Year, and Sharemilker of the Year representing the three tiers of dairy industry which for goal-oriented people such as the Heneghans, can lead to farm ownership.

The awards are supported by Westpac, Dairy NZ, Fonterra, RD1, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, and Blue Wing Honda, along with industry partners Agriculture ITO.

Entries close on December 20. The entry process has been simplified for 2008 with easily downloadable entry forms available online at

Oh, it was a boy! Conor Heneghan arrived on December 1, coinciding with his mother’s birthday, weighing in at a healthy 7lb 40z.


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