Cheesemaker wins $35000 scholarship

22:58, Nov 08 2012
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Pied Piper: Lisa Harper heading out to milk the goats again in the afternoon
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Lisa Harper with the kids.
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The cheese curd is set in moulds and will mature in 6 weeks.
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Cutting cheese curd by hand
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Lisa Harper up to her elbow in cheese curd
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Cheese maturing in the fridge
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Julie Harper with Coco the cow
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Lisa Harper milking Chocolate the nanny
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Lisa Harper pouring 180 litres of cows milk into the vat to be pasteurised
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Milking the first of the goats
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Lisa Harper and dog Ben (on the left) feeding the kids in the morning

Marlborough Sounds woman Lisa Harper has been awarded a Nuffield New Zealand Scholarships for 2013.

She is one of five people throughout the country to be awarded the $35,000 study grant.

The others include Meridian Energy national agribusiness manager Natasha King, from Christchurch, a daughter of Blenheim-based Kaikoura MP Colin King.

The others are Dairy NZ regional leader Tafadzwa Manjala, from Whangarei, ANZ rural banker Sophie Stanley, from Hamilton, and Northern Southland farmer and retailer Stephen Wilkins, from Athol.

The Nuffield NZ Scholarship offers the opportunity for overseas travel and study.

Dr Harper, 37, who lives on Mahau Sound, is described as a rural entrepreneur.

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She was the 2011 winner of the Rural Women Enterprising Woman Award and a finalist in the 2009 Cuisine Artisan Food Awards. She has a Masters in Business Management from Massey University, a PhD in plant pathology from Lincoln University and a science degree from Victoria University. 

She was diverted from her academic career in 2003 when a family illness saw her return from working in Europe to take over the family farm in Marlborough, where she grew up. The family started a business involved in cheese manufacturing and educational tourism. Aside from making the cheese, Lisa's responsibilities include operations management, marketing, sales and customer service and quality control and hazard management. 

Through her Nuffield scholarship, she might look at how to encourage greater levels of innovation in rural businesses and identify some of the road blocks that prevent businesses from taking their ideas further.

Ms King, 39, has progressed from share milking to farm ownership and then into the corporate world in the late 1990s.

One of her goals is to move into an equity farm partnership on a large irrigated dairy unit. Her likely research topic is whether generating gas and electricity can solve the effluent and water management issues for New Zealand agriculture. 

The Marlborough Express