Reuben and Deb Connolly have been named winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year category at the Waikato Dairy Industry Awards.
The other big winners were Christopher Gerard Vila, who became the 2021 Waikato Dairy Manager of the Year, and Ruth Connolly, the 2021 Waikato Dairy Trainee of the Year.
The Connollys have been 50/50 sharemilkers and 20% equity partners with John and Fiona Worsnop on Woolly Farm Ltd’s 110ha, 280-cow Ōtorohanga property for four seasons. They won $16,167 in prizes and four merit awards.
Reuben’s childhood was spent on a sheep and beef farm in Ōtorohanga and he spent six years working as a block manager in the drystock industry after leaving school. Deb grew up on a dairy farm in Ōhaupō and holds a Bachelor of Teaching (ECCE) from Waikato University.
Te Awamutu 50/50 Sharemilkers Denise Knop and Daniel Bradbury were runners-up in the Share Farmer category, winning $6000 in prizes and two merit awards. They work on Kees and Hannie Rombouts 86ha property, milking 257 cows.
The couple are excited about the future of the New Zealand dairy industry and believe it has the opportunity to lead the way to a more sustainable, low-emission future.
“We see ourselves as early adopters of innovation and hope to be part of the change.”
Dan is studying towards a Diploma in Agribusiness Management, while Denise holds a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and a Master of Science in Livestock Sciences, with a focus on dairy nutrition and genetics.
The winner of the 2021 Waikato Dairy Manager of the Year category grew up in the Philippines and was a veterinarian, specialising in dogs and cats.
Christopher Gerard Vila won $8200 in prizes and two merit awards. He is Farm Manager on the JA BE Turnwald Family Trust 103.8ha farm, milking 341 cows in Ōhaupō.
He says the biggest challenge he has faced and continues to overcome is the fact he is an immigrant and had to start from scratch.
“Having no monetary resource has put me at a disadvantage in terms of career progression. I depend heavily upon my abilities.”
Farm Manager Sam Guise placed third and won $2,100 in prizes and one merit award. He was runner-up in the same category last year. Sam works on Keven and Gillian Monks’ 240ha, 865-cow farm at Cambridge.
The 2021 Waikato Dairy Trainee of the Year is Ruth Connolly who entered the Awards to challenge and benchmark herself.
“My twin sister entered last year and really encouraged me to enter as she has gained so much from the Awards.”
Ruth is Farm Assistant on the Rukuhia Holdings Ltd 259.6ha property at Ōhaupō, milking 800 cows. She won $6,700 in prizes and three merit awards.
Runner-up in the Dairy Trainee category was Annie Gill who won $2,750 in prizes.
The first-time entrant is Farm Assistant for Alan Rogers on his 195ha, 600-cow Ōtorohanga property.
The Waikato Dairy Industry Awards winners field day will be held on 19 April 2021 at 10.30am at 117 Mangamahoe Road, RD3, Otorohanga.