Winner – Kylie LeonardKylie Leonard milks 400 cows at Oruanui, Taupo, with her husband Rick and daughters Kate, 10 and twins Isla and Eloise, 6. Her family has a proud history of farming in the Central Plateau region, where her grandparents walked to Reporoa from Te Aroha in the 1950s to establish their dairy farm.
Originally training as a teacher, Leonard’s dream was to own a farm. In 2011 she and her husband entered into a farm equity partnership with her parents, where she continues to milk and rear calves while teaching children with dyslexia part-time.
She believes in setting a positive example to others, supporting AgITO students and chairing her children’s school’s Board of Trustees. She is also patron of Taupo Family Playcentre and is on the Taupo board of the Rural Education Activities Programme (REAP).
Leonard says news of the nomination came as a surprise, and she hopes to continue to inspire others in the rural sector. “Long term I would love to encourage more people to enter our industry and help them take advantage of the wonderful opportunities out there,” she says.
Lorraine Stephenson and her husband have been farming in the Manawatu region since 1979, taking ownership of their dairy farm – Te Hore – in 1990. A member of the Rangitāne iwi, Stephenson’s farm is named after the Rangitāne women who more than 600 years ago claimed mana whenua of the land around where she farms today.
Of Rangitāne, Kahungunu, Te Ātihaunui a Pāpārangi and Irish descent, Stephenson joined her first committee at 16 years-old and hasn’t looked back. Her community involvement stems from her interests in Māori and farming, conservation, resource management, the environment, climate change and global warming.
An active Fonterra shareholder, she has decades of managerial experience across several roles, including a 34-year membership of her local dairy discussion group Kiritaki. She is chair of her local Te Kura Kaupapa Māori school and is currently an executive member of Rangitāne, representing them on several initiatives, including the National Greenhouse Gas Advisory Board and the Hawke’s Bay/East Coast Conservation Board.
As a DairyNZ environmental leader she is involved in river initiatives and advises local Marae on environmental matters, and has been an environmental resource management act commissioner for 30 years.
Stephenson says being nominated for the Dairy Community Leadership Award reinforces the importance of community connection and relationships in farming.
“I’ve always been an advocate for women in farming and encouraging farming women to grow their knowledge and interest in farming activities,” she says. “This nomination recognises our combined efforts to be proactive and committed to New Zealand’s farming sector.”
Winner – Katrina ThomasAfter 21 years in tourism, Katrina moved back to Southland where she met her sheep farming husband. Where they later converted their sheep farm to dairy.
She was Invercargill’s DWN regional group convenor and is now the Southern Regional Hub Leader (Otago, Central Otago & Southland).
She’s involved with community groups such as the Takitimu School PTA, Western Tennis, Takitimu District Pool and many more. Katrina has also recently been appointed the Regional Leader representative on the DWN Trust Board.
“Katrina is a high energy, motivated leader who sweeps everyone along with her enthusiasm and passion for making things happen within the community she lives. She is a self-starter, a practical hand on problem solver, who gets things done!
Her good communication skills coupled with her inclusive leadership style and can do attitude has led her to become the hub of many community activities in Southland.
Her dedication to Dairy Women’s Network, dairy farming women is inspirational. Katrina does not only spear head the development and roll-out of practical, value added training to dairy farmers she displays empathy and caring when initiating fun, social events during tough times.” – Judges Panel
Originally from the UK, Alison lives on her and husband Nick’s 500 cow dairy farm outside Te Kuiti, and they also own farms in Waikato and Southland.
She is active on several school and community boards and groups and has represented regional convenors on DWN’s board of trustees.
Cathy and husband Nick milk 550 cows in Arohena outside Te Awamutu. A registered nurse, Cathy is heavily involved in the Arohena community on several boards and committees including the playcentre (as president), schools and church.
She has been a member of the Arohena Rural Women committee for 30 years.
Winner – Lisa Hicks
Lisa Hicks and partner manage an 800 cow, 400ha farm in Ohakune.
Lisa is a Dairy Women’s Network convener. She initiated the establishment of the Ohakune Dairy NZ discussion group and hosts local and international agri student tours. She is an advocate for people with learning disabilities.
“Lisa embodies what leadership by example represents. She has an amazing ability to mentor, connect and inspire across generational, cultural and language barriers.
A lifelong and passionate learner that sets herself and others high standards.
Her cultural awareness, inclusiveness and natural warmth is a credit to her and her tenacity and drive for education despite having dyslexia is an inspiration to us all.” – Judges Panel
Katrina and family live near Hokitika where they graze dairy and finish beef. Previously she and her husband were 50:50 sharemilkers. She has 3 children and works fulltime as a Livestock Drafter.
She joined the local DWN regional group in 2009 and is currently the Regional Convenor.
Tracey and husband farm in Eketahuna, milking 225 cows. They have farmed for 27 years and are previous regional Sharemilker of the Year winners.
Tracey is a Dairy Industry Awards judge. She also advocates for realistic regulation, mental health support and community engagement for dairy farmers.
Winner – Rachael Nicholson
Rachael and her husband sharemilked on three different farms, growing their herd and building capital before they bought their farm in 2007.
Having two children, Rachael joined Plunket, playcentre and school committees.
The couple has since sold their farm but stayed in their Riversdale (North Southland) community where she continues to belong to multiple committees.
Winner – Jo Sanford
Jo farms near Tuatapere, Western Southland, milking 800 cows. She volunteers for multiple community organisations and says giving back to the community is important to her.
Jo is honoured to be a finalist and looks forward to her journey staying involved in boards/groups that help make her community a great place to live.
Katrina was raised on a sheep farm in Southland. After meeting her husband, they converted his family farm in Wrey’s Bush to dairy. During this time, she was president/area secretary of Central Southland Plunket, and the local kindy committee.
After joining DWN, Katrina became the Invercargill Group Convenor, and remains on numerous committees/groups.
Tania is a contract milker near Te Aroha, who loves the sense of community provided by farming.
She has been a DWN member for 11 years, and was also involved with her local young farmers and had been chair, it gave her the confidence to put her hand up when other opportunity’s came along. She has been on DWN conference committee teaches archery, horse riding and pet day skills.
Winner – Chris Paterson