A hat-trick. A trifecta. A three-peat.
Whatever you want to call it, Fonterra farmer John Wyatt has become the first person to ever accomplish it in the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA).
It’s historic because claiming the title meant that John became the first person to win all three NZDIA categories – he was the 2009 Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Trainee of the Year and the 2015 Manawatū Farm Manager of the Year.
“It was at the back of my mind when I entered”, says John. “But I had no idea that no one had ever done it before so it’s pretty cool.”
John grew up on a sheep and beef farm near Dannevirke and was often helping the neighbours with shearing and docking.
"I have always been keen on farming. I enjoy being outside and working with animals so I knew that was where my future lay."
But in 2007, he left home and gave up sheep and beef in favour of dairying.
"I realised that dairy farming offered a better progression path to farm ownership and more opportunities than sheep and beef, so I gave it a go. I enjoyed it so I have just kept doing it.”
His first job was as a farm assistant on a 440-cow farm near Dannevirke.
"It was a bit of a learning curve milking those first cows but I got the hang of it pretty quickly and there was always something different to do each day."
By 2010, he had learnt enough to take on a manager's role at a 300-cow farm at Pahiatua, while for the last four years John and his wife Kristina have been contract milking for Mike Hammond on his 106ha, 315-cow Auroa property.
John reckons one of the keys to his success is that he’s always keen to learn.
“I want to know as much as I can about what I’m doing so having that knowledge is important. That’s why I did a Diploma through Primary ITO and I think that has really helped my career.”
Away from the farm John and Kristina enjoy staying active, but with one-and-a-half-year-old son Caleb to also care for, finding time can be tricky.
“I play squash and Kristina plays hockey. We both enjoy mountain biking together as well, although it's a bit more difficult now that we have a family. We’re not far from the beach at Opunake and there are some great walking trails on the mountain which is less than 30 mins away. There’s lots of outdoors stuff close to us so we try to get out when we can.”
John and Kristina are now in the process of buying the herd they currently contract milk to start a 50:50 sharemilking partnership.
“We’re really excited about that. It’s great to be staying on the same farm. The plan for the next few years is to pay off some debt and then hopefully be in a position to buy a farm of our own. Kristina and I work really well as a team. I enjoy the satisfaction of a job well-done and want to set a good example and create a future for my family.”
The regional winners now progress to another judging round with the overall New Zealand winners announced at the National Awards Dinner on May 15 in Hamilton.
The Fonterra farmers who won titles are:
SHARE FARMER OF THE YEAR:
DAIRY MANAGER OF THE YEAR:
DAIRY TRAINEE OF THE YEAR: