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West Coast Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards winners

Under Embargo until

11pm 20 March 2017


A Murchison couple have been announced as major winners in the 2017 West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards.

Jon and Vicki Nicholls were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year competition at the West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held in Greymouth last night. The other big winners were Jack Raharuhi, who was named the 2017 West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Manager of the Year, and Clay Paton, the 2017 West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Jon and Vicki Nicholls, aged 39 and 37 years, are sharemilking 470 cows on the Greenmile Ltd 185ha farm in Murchison. They won $6,430 in prizes.

They entered the Awards to network, analyse their business and meet new people, and wish to purchase land assets in the future.

The couple see the strengths of their business in the low cost of production, which minimizes expenses and the high stock sales, which maximises income.

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, DairyNZ, DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda Motorcycles, LIC, Meridian Energy, New Zealand Farm Source and Ravensdown, along with industry partner Primary ITO.

Runner-up in the West Coast-Top of the South competition went to Carl Wilmshurst and Anna Boulton, both aged 26 years, who won $2,250 in prizes.

The Hokitika couple contract milk for Bryan and Brigitte Wilmshurst on their 390-cow, 160ha property.

Carl is a qualified accountant and believes this background enables the couple to have a detailed understanding of their business and to manage it extensively.

“We focus a lot on planning and organisation so that we can maximise efficiency and get through the most amount of work possible,” say the couple.

“Our future farming goals include building our livestock numbers to progress into 50/50 sharemilking and potentially farm ownership in the long run.”

Third place went to Craig and Jackie Brake, who entered the competition with the hope of gaining some feedback on their business. They won $1,500 in prizes.

They are equity partners on Stu and Jan Moir’s 220ha farm at Ahaura, where they milk 560 cows.

The couple see their relationship with the Moirs as the main strength of their business. “The high level of trust and respect helps us to run a successful low-cost farm.”

The winner of the 2017 West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Manager of the Year competition sees huge benefits from entering the dairy awards and has met some really good people through the process.

Jack Raharuhi won $4,680 in prizes and is the farm manager for the Landcorp 482ha, 1150-cow farm at Westport.

Jack (24), began milking through a Gateway programme at Buller High School nine years ago, when he fell in with the ‘wrong crowd’. “Dad pulled me out of school and into full-time employment as a farm assistant for Landcorp. I’ve been with them ever since,” explains Jack.

During that time he has progressed his career within the industry, which sees him overseeing a second-in-charge programme, training and mentoring the 2IC’s within the Landcorp cluster. He has continued with his studies, gaining numerous Primary ITO certifications and looks forward to completing his Diploma in Agriculture.

Jack is passionate about health and safety on the farm after losing a very close friend in a quad bike accident. “I believe that the business I work for has a very high health and safety culture, which sits with my values.”

Future farming goals include becoming an operation manager to oversee 5000-10,000 cows over a number of farms. “I would like to start a training facility to attract people to the dairy industry and help mentor those already involved, through study and practical support,” says Jack.

Takaka farm manager Alice Reilly, aged 29 years, was second in the Dairy Manager competition, winning $1,500 in prizes.

Alice holds a Bachelor of Science (Animal Science) from Lincoln University, and a Post Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Nutrient Management from Massey University. Last year, she founded the Golden Bay Young Farmers Club.

Currently working for Dos Rios Dairy Ltd on their 177ha property, milking 560 cows, Alice sees a strength of the business in the open communication between owners and staff with regards to goals, expectations and successes.

“The farm is quite self-contained, with all young stock raised on run-offs around the property. This means staff have control from start to finish over the growth and quality of our herd,” she says.

39-year-old Kikiwa farm manager Anthony Lamborn placed third and won $1,250 in prizes. Anthony works on the Birchlea Trust 250ha farm, milking 700 cows.

“I believe that we are a very proactive farm in regards to industry trends relating to animal welfare and animal health, from our bobby-calf feeding areas and loading facilities to animal health procedures,” says Anthony. “We also have a non-negotiable feeding regime for our girls and that is to be full-fed at all time – from calves right through to the milking ladies.”

The 2017 West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Trainee of the Year, Clay Paton, hopes entering the Awards will open up doors for quality employment and career opportunities in the future. “I hoped to learn something about myself and find areas I can improve in, as well as benchmark myself against other employees at a similar level.”

The 23-year-old has been in the industry for three seasons after he realised while studying Landscape Architecture at Lincoln University that he was on the wrong career path, and shifted his attention to the agricultural sector.

He is currently second-in-charge for Brent and Michelle Riley on their 450-cow, 163ha property at Wakefield. Clay won $6,285 in prizes.

Future farming goals include a contract milking or lower order sharemilking position within the next two years, and to continue to grow equity, enabling farm ownership or large scale sharemilking position by the age of 30.

Runner-up in the Dairy Trainee competition was 19-year-old Totara Flat farm manager Salem Christian, who won $1,500 in prizes. Salem currently works for Richard and Alison Knight on their 130ha farm.

Salem entered the Awards to rate himself in a broader industry context and to help progress his career goals, which include farm ownership.

Third place in the Dairy Trainee competition went to 21-year-old farm assistant Sam Goffriller who won $1,250 in prizes. He works for Roger, Shirley and Robert Rosser on the 165ha, 550-cow farm in Upper Takaka

The West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards winners field day will be held on April 5at 436 Matakitaki Road, Murchison where Share Farmers of the Year, Jon and Vicki Nicholls, sharemilk. Also presenting at the field day will be the region’s Dairy Manager of the Year, Jack Raharuhi, and Dairy Trainee of the Year, Clay Paton. Further details on the winners and the field day can be found at

Share Farmer Merit Awards:

• DairyNZ Human Resources Award – Jon & Vicki Nicholls

• Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Craig & Jackie Brake

• Federated Farmers Leadership Award – Jon & Vicki Nicholls

• Honda Farm Safety and Health Award – Craig & Jackie Brake

• LIC Recording and Productivity Award – Andrew Wiffen

• Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award – Jon & Vicki Nicholls

• Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Craig & Jackie Brake

• Westpac Business Performance Award – Carl Wilmhurst & Anna Boulton

Dairy Manager Merit Awards:

• Landcorp Farming Ltd Employee Engagement Award - Jack Raharuhi

• Gordon Handy Machinery Ltd Leadership Award – Jack Raharuhi

• Fonterra Farm Source Dairy Management Award – Jack Raharuhi

• DeLaval Livestock Management Award – Anthony Lamborn

• Primary ITO Power Play Award – Jack Raharuhi

• Fonterra Farm Source Feed Management Award – Jack Raharuhi

• Westpac Financial Management & Planning Award – Alice Reilly

Dairy Trainee Merit Awards:

• West Coast Top of the South DIA Most Promising Entrant – Tim Green

• Jeff Evans Ltd Farming Knowledge Award – Clay Paton

• Crombie Lockwood New Zealand Ltd Communication & Engagement Award – Philippa Beaumont

• Essential Nutrition Ltd Community & Industry Involvement Award - Sam Goffriller

• DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Sam Goffriller

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