Kirkwood takes vote for council
Oamaru dairy farmer Greg Kirkwood is the new Fonterra Shareholders councillor for ward 32 in Southern Canterbury.
Mr Kirkwood was elected to the council ahead of Geraldine dairy farmer Ad Hendriks.
He takes over from Desiree Reid, who retired from the position by rotation.
Mr Kirkwood said he put his name forward for the Shareholders Council because he wanted to get involved more in the co-operative.
"As a shareholder you want to participate in all things Fonterra and the Shareholders Council is part of Fonterra.
"It's a representative body for the shareholders and I see myself as an active shareholder."
One area he believed the co-operative could do better is its communication. The debate over Trading Among Farmers showed that communication across all levels of the co-operative needed to be improved.
"I suspect the lesson there is up and down - from shareholders through to management, the board and the shareholders council - is that communication needs to be improved."
Until now Mr Kirkwood has stayed clear of any leadership positions within the dairy industry, apart from chairing the South Island Dairy Event committee for five years.
He believes very strongly in keeping an open mind when meeting people and debating issues. It is a philosophy he says he will use when he sits around the table with his fellow shareholder councillors.
"The road to success is always under construction. From that I believe everyone you meet potentially could be a member of staff or an employer or someone that you're looking to do a deal with.
"It's a large shareholder base, but we all have the right to be heard."
Mr Kirkwood and wife Kelly followed the traditional route to dairy farm ownership, starting at the bottom and saving and driving his farm business to provide him with the funds to reach his farm ownership goal.
"We were not a lot different from any other young couple that milked a few cows and sharemilked. We've grown a business from not much to where it is today," he said.
He began 50:50 sharemilking in his early 20s in the Waikato.
Using his herd as leverage, he was able to grow his farm business over the past 15 years.
His and his wife's efforts were rewarded when he won the Otago Sharemilker of the Year at the 2008 dairy awards.
While their smaller home farm is near Oamaru, their main farming operation near Ranfurly spans three farms each with its own dairy shed, wintering 2500 cows.
The couple oversee 15-18 staff who help them run the business.
Shareholders also voted to re-elect incumbent directors John Wilson and Nicola Shadbolt.
They will be joined by new director Blue Read. Mr Read lives and farms near Urenui in Northern Taranaki. He was the previous Shareholders Council chairman from 2007 to 2010 and had been having been a councillor since 2003. Shareholders Rodney Wilson and David Gasquoine were elected unopposed as members of the directors' remuneration committee.