2020 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year


Ngāi Tahu Farm Manager Ash-Leigh Campbell has been named as the recipient of the 2020 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award.

The prestigious award was announced during the Dairy Women’s Network online conference on Wednesday 6 May.

The other finalists were Auckland based microbiologist and bio chemist Natasha Maguire and West Coast dairy farmer Heather McKay.

After leaving high school Ash-Leigh studied at Lincoln University doing diplomas in Agriculture and Farm Management and a degree in Commerce majoring in agriculture.

Ash-Leigh Campbell - 2020 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year

The 28-year-old is originally from Christchurch and has been working for Ngāi Tahu’s South Island farming operation for more than three years. As Farming Technical Farm Manager, she is responsible for assisting with the management and performance of eight dairy and dairy support farms that include 8000 cows.

She also assists with operational and environmental performance (audit and compliance), analytical projects and the implementation and improvement of sustainable farming practices. She is also Chair of the New Zealand Young Farmers Board and a previous Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award finalist.

Ash-Leigh says winning the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award was “amazing recognition” of just how far she had come in the industry.

“The opportunities Fonterra and Dairy Women’s Network have provided have given me the confidence to step out and grow in the industry in 10 short years.”

I’ve been bold, I’ve been brave, and I hope this journey I’ve been on can showcase to other young wahine that anything is achievable.

Ash-Leigh Campbell, winner of 2020 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year

Fonterra Chief Executive Miles Hurrell says the Co-op is proud to recognise and help develop women in dairying who set high standards for themselves and for our industry.

“I want to congratulate Ash-Leigh for winning this award and also the two other finalists. They are all outstanding ambassadors for our industry and are contributing to the pathways that will enable the next generation of farmers to succeed.

“Ash-Leigh’s commitment to sustainable farming and environmental protection is clear to see, and makes a real and positive difference in her local community and our industry.”

Dairy Women's Network Trustee, who heads up the judging panel, Alison Gibb said all three women contributed to the dairy industry in very different ways, highlighting the depth and diversity of how women are contributing to the dairy industry in New Zealand. 

“Ash-Leigh exudes energy and passion for the dairy industry and has actively sought opportunities to both contribute and grow in an industry she loves.”

As Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year, Ash-Leigh receives a scholarship prize of up to $20,000 to undertake a professional business development programme, sponsored by Fonterra.

The other award presented at the online conference was the inaugural Dairy Women’s Network Regional Leader of the Year award.

Four finalists were chosen from the more than 70 volunteer Regional Leaders and the winner was Tania Burrows. Tania is married to Johno, is a mother to three outgoing girls, and lower order sharemilker in mid Canterbury, farming 2000 head of stock between their dairy farm and run off block with four to seven team members on farm each season.

She began her leadership journey as an early childhood teacher, progressing to management roles where she was responsible for up to 150 children, their families and a team of seven teaching staff.

The three other finalists were Northland farmer Sue Skelton, Jessica Goodwright, who is sharemilking in Central Southland, and North Canterbury contract milker Rebecca Green.

Tania Burrows - 2020 Dairy Women’s Network Regional Leader of the Year