Entries into the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards have almost doubled in the Waikato region, jumping from 35 entrants in 2020 to 67 this year.
Waikato candidates placed strongly in last year’s national awards, taking out major categories Trainee of the Year and Share Farmer of the Year.
NZDIA Waikato regional manager Nia Jones says last year’s success may have something to do with the increase in entries.
“The results really put Waikato on the map which I imagine inspired others in the region,” says Nia.
“Waikato is the heart of New Zealand dairying so we always get a good amount of interest, but this year is even better.”
The increase has intensified the competition, as only five candidates per category will be selected for the regional final.
Entrants into the Share Farmer of the year say that wanting to benchmark and improve their business is what drew them to enter.
“This will be the second time we’ve entered,” says the entrant.
“It was a really good experience, and we enjoyed meeting people in the industry with a similar drive.
“Now we are busy preparing for this year’s judging.”
Creating career opportunities
Nia and her husband, Marc Jones, won the national Share Farmer of the Year title in 2019.
“We’re contract milking 950 cows in Tokoroa at the moment. We've been able to grow a lot here, and have an exciting share milking opportunity coming up next year,” says Nia.
“The awards have definitely helped us move forward in our careers. It’s such a valuable networking opportunity, and shows credibility on your CV.
“It’s also good at keeping you on top of all this little things on the farm’s to-do list, like keeping your cash flows up to date and analysing your KPIs.”
Nia says the NZDIA experience has made her a more confident person.
“We were team leaders for the awards last year and are general managers this year. If you told me three years ago that I would be running committee meetings and talking to sponsors, judges and entrants I wouldn’t have believed you.
“It pushes you to be your best.”