Lock, stock and smoking career
A former All Black lock has proven as adept around a cowshed as he was on a rugby paddock.
Kevin O'Neill and his wife Sara turned their focus to farming in 2011 and the pair have run away with premier honours in the Canterbury North Otago Dairy Awards, taking home $19,000 worth of prizes.
Although they have had just two years in the industry, beginning with a six-month stint as farm managers before entering into a partnership as equity farmers on Mrs O'Neill's family farm at Waiau, the shift has been successful.
They oversee a 1190-cow herd on the 340-hectare farm and have Duncan and Olivia Rutherford and James and Belinda McCone as their equity partners.
The O'Neills have two young children and say their future lies in multiple farm ownership. O'Neill played Super Rugby for the Crusaders, Chiefs and Melbourne Rebels.
Two other titles were announced at the awards evening: the Canterbury North Otago Farm Manager of the Year, won by Phillip Columbus of Oxford, and the Canterbury North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year, won by Isaac Vujcich, also of Oxford.
- The Timaru Herald