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Local leaders recognised by Dairy Women’s Network


Two women with generations of farming experience behind them are finalists in the 2018 Dairy Community Leadership Awards.

They are dairy farmers Kylie Leonard, from Taupo and Lorraine Stephenson, from Dannevirke.

The Dairy Community Leadership Awards are a Dairy Women’s Network (DWN) initiative recognising the unsung heroes of rural communities. This year’s award will be presented at an awards ceremony during the Network’s conference in Rotorua, 22-23 March.

Sponsored by ASB and Tompkins Wake, the award recognises the voluntary role dairy farming women have in leading their communities and sharing their time and skills beyond the farm gate.

DWN CEO Zelda de Villiers says both finalists embody the community-centric values and a willingness to go the hard yards that can often go unrecognised.

“Kylie and Lorraine are those people you can leave a task to and know they’ll get on with it and that it will make a difference to those around them,” says de Villiers.

“They both volunteer an extraordinary amount of time in their communities and place a lot of value on their network and relationships, which is essential for any rural community.

“We’re proud to announce them as finalists for the Dairy Community Leadership Award.”

The recipient of the award is chosen by a panel comprising representatives from DWN, ASB and Tompkins Wake and the recipient will receive a scholarship prize to attend a leadership programme in New Zealand.

Last year’s Dairy Community Leadership Award winner was Southland dairy farmer Katrina Thomas.

Dairy Community Leadership Award finalists 2018

Kylie Leonard – Taupo

Kylie Leonard milks 400 cows at Oruanui, Taupo, with her husband Rick and daughters Kate, 10 and twins Isla and Eloise, 6. Her family has a proud history of farming in the Central Plateau region, where her grandparents walked to Reporoa from Te Aroha in Waikato in the 1950s to establish their dairy farm.

Originally training as a teacher, Leonard’s dream was to own a farm. In 2011 she and her husband entered into a farm equity partnership with her parents, where she continues to milk and rear calves while teaching children with dyslexia part-time.

She believes in setting a positive example to others, supporting AgITO students and chairing her children’s school’s Board of Trustees. She is also patron of Taupo Family Playcentre and is on the Taupo board of the Rural Education Activities Programme (REAP).

Leonard says news of the nomination came as a surprise, and she hopes to continue to inspire others in the rural sector. “Long term I would love to encourage more people to enter our industry and help them take advantage of the wonderful opportunities out there,” she says.

Lorraine Stephenson – Dannevirke

Lorraine Stephenson and her husband have been farming in the Tararua region since 1979, taking ownership of their dairy farm in 1990. She is of Rangitāne, Kahungunu, Te Ātihaunui-a-Pāpārangi and Irish descent.

Stephenson joined her first committee at 16 years old and hasn’t looked back. Her community involvement stems from her interests in Māori and farming, conservation, resource management, the environment, climate change and global warming.

An active Fonterra shareholder, Stephenson has decades of managerial experience across several roles, including a 34 year membership of her local dairy discussion group Kiritaki. She is also a founding member of 25 years of Ikaroa Rawhiti Māori Dairy discussion group. She is chair of her local Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Tamaki Nui A Rua and is currently an executive member of Rangitāne. She has had many local, regional and national appointments while managing to keep her hand in on the farm.

As a DairyNZ environmental leader she is involved in a variety of river initiatives including riparian planting, fencing off waterways, and educating and celebrating the efforts of her fellow farmers. She has been a hearing commissioner for 25 years, recently re-sitting and passing her papers.

Stephenson says being nominated for the Dairy Community Leadership Award reinforces the importance of community connection and relationships in farming.

“I’ve always been an advocate for women in farming and encouraging farming women to grow their knowledge and interest in farming activities,” she says. “This nomination recognises our combined efforts to be proactive and committed to New Zealand’s farming sector.”

-ENDS-

About Dairy Women’s Network

This year Dairy Women’s Network celebrates its 20th anniversary. The Network was established in 1998 by several of New Zealand’s leading dairying women to develop and educate women to add value to the business of dairying. More than 10,000 members have access to professional and in-person support through a mix of face-to-face events and web-based contact, which includes dairy modules, regional meetings, internet forums and the annual conference.


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