Ambassador role more important than prizes

DIANE BISHOP
Last updated 11:54 16/07/2014
Wiremu Reid and his family
DIANE BISHOP/Fairfax NZ

BREEDING SUCCESS: Ahuwhenua Young Maori Dairy Farmer of the Year Wiremu Reid with his partner Bettina Tolich and their sons William, 5, and Manu, 18 months.

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Wiremu Reid is a role model to many of his peers.

The Ranfurly sharemilker recently won the 2014 Ahuwhenua Young Maori Dairy Farmer of the Year Award - a title that will look pretty impressive on his CV.

"For me it's not about the prizes, but being an ambassador for the industry," Reid said.

While many 25-year-olds are travelling the world or still deciding what to do for a career, Reid is making his mark in the dairy industry.

He and his partner, Bettina Tolich, and their two sons - William, 5, and Manu, 18 months - moved to the Maniototo in Central Otago in early June.

They will 50 per cent sharemilk 1150 cows this season for Rodney Humphries and Monica Blaser and expect to produce about 440,000 kilograms of milk solids on 355 hectares.

The farm is irrigated with both centre pivot and K-line irrigation.

"It's going to be a real learning curve getting used to the irrigation," Reid said.

Reid spent his first four years in Whangarei, which he still calls home, before shifting south to the Hundred Line, near Winton, with his sharemilking parents Bill and Kate and his four siblings in 1994.

He returned to Whangarei to finish his schooling.

In 2009, he and Tolich returned to Southland to manage his parents' 450-cow farm for two years before taking up a 750-cow job at Kuana, near Winton.

This was followed by time spent managing an 800-cow farm at Methven in Mid Canterbury.

"We would have stayed there if we had a lower-order job. We really enjoyed it up there," Reid said.

It was while working on Stephen and Janet Pope's 650-cow farm at Otapiri as a lower-order sharemilker that Reid was encouraged to enter the Young Maori Dairy Farmer of the Year competition.

His friend Tangaroa Walker, also from Southland, had won the same award two years ago and urged him to give it a go, as did Primary ITO training adviser Michelle Phelan.

"She thought it was a great opportunity to get my name out there," he said.

Reid was assessed on a range of skills and attributes which included his commitment to farming, training and education - he is studying towards a Bachelor of Agribusiness Management - his community involvement and plans for the future.

"I was honoured and humbled to win the award," he said.

The couple spotted their current job on internet site Fencepost and said it instantly appealed to them.

"It meant we could have all of our cows with us.

"We have also bought another 400 cows," Tolich said.

Reid's parents have also made the move to the Maniototo to assist with the running of the farm.

His siblings are silent partners in the business.

"They have helped me get my foot in the door," he said.

Reid and 's herd is very young - few of the cows are older than five years - and they will be busy getting them used to the 70-bale rotary cowshed this coming spring.

The couple will employ four full-time staff this season and say they are still looking to fill a positions.

Their goal is to continue building equity in their stock and to get involved in an equity partnership or buy a run-off block within the next few years.

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- The Southland Times

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