Winner – Loshni ManikamLoshni Manikam is originally from South Africa and now lives in Southland, milking 600 cows with her husband and three children. In 2007 they were named Southland Sharemilker of the Year, before progressing to their current equity partnership.
Manikam has a special interest in human behaviour and is dedicated to the development of the current and emerging leaders in the dairy industry, which, she says, stems from her belief that people are the most important part of the industry. A former lawyer, Manikam transitioned from dairy farming to leadership coaching after receiving her coach certification in 2012. She is the founding director of Iceberg Coaching and a strategic consultant for Farmstrong, working to support the wellbeing of farming communities.
She is currently a trustee of the Southern Dairy Development Trust, a coach and facilitator of the Agri-Women’s Development Trust’s Escalator Programme, and a Federated Farmers Southland executive member.
Manikam says being nominated for Dairy Woman of the Year demonstrates the value and success of ‘ordinary’ dairy farming women. “It shows that you can raise a family and still progress through the industry, reach the top, and have a say at industry level.”
Rachel Baker farms in Central Hawke’s Bay with her husband and three children. With more than 20 years’ experience in the dairy industry, Baker has held several roles during her career, including as a veterinarian and a dairy consultant. She and her husband won the Manawatu Sharemilker of the Year title in 2009, and progressed to large scale sharemilking before purchasing a dairy support unit in 2017.
She is chair of the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards executive and a consultant for private dairy clients and Manawatu farm syndicate MyFarm. She frequently offers her time and expertise in education, guest speaking on dairy production systems and sharemilking at Massey University. She is also a Kellogg scholar, a Fonterra networker and has also been a Primary ITO tutor.
Locally, Baker is involved with her community and school and coaches junior netball.
Baker sees her nomination as recognition of the support and guidance of the many people she’s worked with who have encouraged her to get involved for the betterment of the sector.
“It’s an opportunity to highlight that being involved and giving back to the industry is a fantastic way to meet new people and open doors to new experiences and possibilities,” she says.Tracey Collis
Tararua District Mayor Tracey Collis milks 220 cows with her husband and four children in Eketahuna in the Manawatu-Wanganui region. They have judged several Sharemilker of the Year awards, having previously won the Manawatu/Rangitikei/Horowhenua region award in 2003.
Collis is an advocate for the representation and advancement of regional farming businesses and farmer wellbeing. She is a member of the Institute of Directors and her local Chamber of Commerce, and is a Fonterra networker and graduate of the Fonterra Governance and Agricultural Women’s Development Trust Escalator programmes.
She served a term as a councillor before being elected Mayor of the Tararua district in 2016. She has a passion for farming, business and the environment and is a resource management commissioner, a dairy environment leader and a member of Horizons Dairy Leaders Group.
Collis says the nomination is an honour and it is humbling to be acknowledged by her peers. “I think it demonstrates to other dairy women how easily transferable our skill set is and how much we contribute and offer to the industry, our communities and New Zealand.”
Winner – Jessie Chan-DormanJessie owns a dairy business with husband Hayden and has worked in several rural professional roles over the past 15 years in policy and sustainable farming.
She’s on Fonterra’s Shareholders Council, Federated Farmers National Dairy Executive, is a Director of Ashburton Trading Society and a member of NZ Asian Leaders.
“Jessie demonstrates incredible enthusiasm, passion and drive. She articulates well, is focussed and self-aware of her strengths which have developed from a strong moral anchor and driving work ethic.
Jessie describes her leadership style as being that of a servant – she helps other to achieve their goals. While she believes that skills are important it is ultimately ones “attitude” that determines the effectiveness of those skills. Jesse leads with absolute integrity. Not only is consistency valuable in leadership, flexibility is key in order to drive change.
Jessie is a team player and in her governance roles enjoys the team effort of diverse thinkers; the sense of achievement in making decisions and then being held accountable.” – Judges Panel
Claire (Ngāti Ruanui) is a director of Paraninihi Ki Waitotara Incorporation and a board observer for AgResearch. She has been General Manager for Intervet New Zealand, manager at Agrifeeds and also established Sirona Animal Health.
She is married to Michael and they have two adult sons, Joshua and Matt.
Jolene is a Dairy Consultant for Agribusiness Consultants and Chair of Rural Business Network Southland. She owns a 200ha, 570 cow farm in Aparima, Southland with her husband Hadleigh.
She is a PrimaryITO mentor, helping students with learning difficulties and last year she completed the Kellogg’s Rural Leadership Programme.
Winner – Rebecca KeoghanRebecca is a Business Manager for Landcorp. She is a team leader for the Dairy Manager of the Year as part of the NZ Dairy Industry Awards and a director of Westland Milk Products.
She is also a director for her own farm and mum of two children – 5 and 6. Rebecca plays the trombone in the Westport Municipal Brass Band, which she is also the secretary of.
“Rebecca describes her leadership style as being achievement and recognition focussed, and champions the people around her to achieve through encouragement and coaching.
She is extremely proud of their achievements and derives energy and momentum for her own leadership journey.
Rebecca is strongly motivated to build a Health and Safety culture and believes that safety leadership drives excellence.
She understands the importance of bringing others with her for positive change.” – Judges Panel
Renee is an emerging leader. She is a mum who works actively on-farm while being a leader within her regional and national networks.
She is active in Federate Farmers, completed Westland Milk Products’ regional governance and leadership programme and is a founding member of the Coast Dairy Environment Leaders Group.
Michelle is past Chair of Dairy Women’s Network including Executive Chair, 2013-2014. She represented NZ Dairy Industry at the APEC Women in Leadership Forum in Beijing, 2013.
She’s a Kellogg’s Rural Leadership Graduate and current Trustee of Waihi Agricultural Education Trust. She’s setting up a business to support farming widows.
Winner – Katie Milne
Along with my partner Ian Whitmore, we own a farm at Rotomanu which is in the heart of the West Coast just east of Lake Brunner. Our daughter Andrea lives in Canterbury, and having finished her BSc studies at Lincoln University has begun work in Ashburton.
I am currently chair of the local TB-free Committee, and president of West Coast Federated Farmers, and have been elected onto the National Federated Farmers Board.
“Katie demonstrates an unselfish contribution to the dairy industry delivered with a passion and zest that gets attention. She already plays in a space beyond her immediate expertise, experience and comfort zone epitomising a dairy woman determined to make a difference and thus achieving great advocacy outcomes for the wider dairy industry.” – Judges Panel.
The farm at Rotomanu milks about 200 straight Jersey cows on a pasture-based system supplying Westland Milk Products. We also do some local contracting making baleage, pit silage, and effluent spreading via slurry tanker and muck spreader.
Previously I have worked at the local freezing works at Kokiri, where I did numerous jobs from carcass grading on the slaughter floor, food safety work in the laboratory, meat inspection on the chain, and eventually finished up documenting all procedures on plant as they applied for ISO 9002 accreditation, which was successful.
I have also had some experience in systems auditing and have worked for LIC in the past as a sales rep and MINDA records assistant.
I have helped local farmers set up numerous groups over the years; some involved with production, e.g. West Coast Focus Farm, but more recently around environmental issues.
These range from solutions for nutrient runoff from hump and hollowed land, farm plan projects for Lake Brunner catchment, and more recently, in conjunction with Landcare Trust the Lake Brunner Community Catchment Care Group.
My off-farm interests include tramping, diving, hunting, water sports on the lake, snow skiing, bird watching and aviation.
I like to help people help cows and believe in thinking and acting beyond traditional concepts and limits.
As a ruminant nutritionist and thought leader, I enjoy empowering my farming clients through sharing technical and practical information about nutrition and the utilisation of nutrients by cows, with a view to achieving optimal production, successful reproduction, healthy cows, environmental sustainability and profitability for the farm business.
It is my belief that as the New Zealand dairy industry evolves, understanding the dynamics of sound nutrition will become even more pivotal to future success.
For as long as I can remember, I have had an interest in animal health and nutrition.
My love of learning and curiosity about the world took a firm hold while I was studying Animal Science, Ruminant Nutrition and International Development at the University of Guelph in Canada. This study set the foundation for what has evolved to be a global career as a dairy nutritionist and capacity builder.
I came to New Zealand on holiday to visit my sister on a study exchange at Lincoln University. That introduction was profound, and 11 years ago I emigrated here. Upon arrival, it was difficult to secure employment as a ruminant nutritionist, so I decided to create my own niche and established Maple Grove Consulting Ltd.
The business drew on my experience working with the Canadian International Development Agency (China and Honduras) and the World Bank (China) to provide expertise in capacity building, rural extension and ruminant nutrition.
It was through working on capacity-building projects with AgResearch that I became involved with the 2007 Invercargill ‘Network for Women in Dairying’ Conference Organising Committee. It was then that I felt I had found ‘my place’ in New Zealand.
To this day, I credit the success of Maple Grove Consulting to the opportunities presented to me by Dairy Women’s Network.
In 2013, PGG Wrightson made an offer too good to refuse, so I shifted gears and moved into my ‘dream job’ working as part of the PGG Wrightson Tech Team. The scope of the role fits well with my passion for working with the rural community to educate and empower.
A believer in thinking globally and acting locally, and have found a tremendous sense of community in Alexandra as a volunteer with the La Leche League and The Terrace School doing weekly parent help sessions.
At a national level, my role with PGG Wrightson involves travelling this beautiful country providing technical support and training. I am very proud to be actively involved on the committee for the New Zealand Association of Ruminant Nutrition.
As a citizen of the global village, I am a certified cow signals trainer and continue to maintain my international contacts throughout the agriculture sectors.
I consider myself a ‘grass-roots’ dairy farmer. Growing up on a dairy farm in the Waikato, my husband and I progressed through the industry; from lower order sharemilking, to 50/50 sharemilking to farm ownership.
Prior to 1999 I also worked in the corporate environment as an administrative services manager. This is when I studied a Diploma in Business Studies endorsed in Employment Relations Management from Massey University.
In 2000 we moved from the Waikato to Southland giving us the opportunity to grow our sharemilking business to 780 cows. These growth opportunities also helped us purchase our first farm in 2002. In 2005 we purchased our first dairy farm which we continued to grow to 168h and 450 cows.
In 2006 we won the New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year title after winning the Southland regional title, and then in late 2008, my husband died unexpectedly. With some great employees we operated the sharemilking business to its conclusion.
In mid-2009 I returned to live in the Waikato with my three daughters, while still returning to Southland on a regular basis to visit the dairy farm which was being operated with a sharemilker.
From mid-2011 I decided I wanted to give back to an industry that had created the opportunities given to me and my family. I have huge commitment, drive and passion for the industry and believe in leaving a legacy for future generations, giving them the opportunities to succeed.
Since October 2011 I have been a director of the Southland Demonstration Farm. This farm aims to strengthen the southern dairy industry through leadership by creating a template for others to follow, innovation and creativity around problem solving, research applicable to local dairy farming situations, gathering of local climate, soil and pasture growth data and open sharing of all the information accumulated.
Since 2012 I have also been part of the working group for Southern Dairy Hub development; an innovation centre delivering research, demonstration and education for southern dairy farmers.
During these few years, I also delivered workshops for Dairy Women’s Network and AgITO.
In 2013 I was selected as the inaugural associate director to DairyNZ for six months and am now a strategic director for Young Farmers and also chair the governance committee for two DairyNZ led Ministry of Business Innovation & Employment research contracts.
It is extremely humbling to be nominated for Dairy Woman of the Year. I hope this nomination is an inspiration for my daughters. Every day I strive to teach them that they can achieve many things when they put their minds to it. I am very humbled to be considered a positive role model for the dairy industry and women.
Wilma van Leeuwen
I was born to a Dutch Immigrant family who farmed in the Waikato where I grew up.
I am extremely motivated, have a positive attitude and always set goals. At a young age I set myself a goal to become a dairy farmer in the future. Another goal was to work hard, save money and travel back to Holland to find out more about my family and roots.
At 18 I travelled to Holland, worked there for 18 months in the horticulture industry, growing vegetables, various flower specimens and pot plants.
At 22, once back in New Zealand, I met my husband and was married the following year in 1985. We began our sharemilking career, milking 350 cows near Matamata. Nearly 30 years later, we have grown our business to milking over 12,000 cows on 12 dairy farms.
We moved to Waimate in the South Island in 1993 and established a contracting business in 1996. We have carefully structured our business to assist young men and women who show potential to work within our business and achieve their farming goals.
While working in our business, I had six children, four of whom now work within the business and two who are studying degrees in Agriculture at Lincoln.
I think outside the square and embrace new technology, and as such as we installed the first robotic milking system in a freestall barn system in New Zealand in 2008. Recently we have commissioned the largest robotic milking freestall barn in the world, milking 1500 cows with 24 milking robots.
I believe that educating people is extremely important. My farming business has been accredited by the Ministry of Education, and I help educate students by hosting secondary school geography field trips.
Our business has also been accredited by Dutch Agricultural Universities to train students. I also educate the general public by giving tours of alternative farming systems and methods.
Because of the scale of the business, I no longer milk cows and my role has evolved into financial management and planning. I am a director of the van Leeuwen Dairy Group and its associated companies, am a Trustee of the van Leeuwen Family Trust, and a director of two of my children’s companies.
I attended the Rabobank Primary Producers Executive Development Programme in Sydney in 2002 and graduated from the programme in 2003, and was also instrumental in setting up the Waitaki Milk Supply Group and later the Oceania Milk Supply Group where I coordinate and host meetings and carry out the role of secretary.
I was a founding shareholder in NZDL and Oceania Dairy Ltd and played an instrumental role in establishing these companies, and also a participant in the Oceania Dairy Ltd negotiating team that travelled to China when initial talks began with Yili (Chinese Dairy Company) to purchase the Oceania Greenfields site.
Winner – Charmaine O’Shea
Charmaine is a Chartered Accountant specialising in farm accounting, and an equity partner in a dairy farm with her brother Shayne.
She is best described as a woman with a passion for improving the profitability of the New Zealand dairy sector through strong financial, environmental, and people performance.
She is recognised as a leading Northland chartered accountant, developing her practice over 17 years with clients throughout New Zealand.
Her spare time sees her improve financial performance of the sector by involvement in projects like the development and design of the DairyBase database and a member of the inaugural Board.
“Charmaine’s passion for improving the profitability of the NZ dairy sector through strong financial, environmental, and people performance is clearly demonstrated . Demonstrating both environmental, business and people leadership for the NZ dairy sector drives Charmaine.” – Judges Panel.
In 2013, Charmaine was awarded and recognised for her outstanding achievements by becoming a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants.
Demonstrating both environmental, business and people leadership for the New Zealand dairy sector drives Charmaine.
Her robust environmental stewardship and her aim to demonstrate best farming practices was recognised in 2013 alongside Shayne as the Northland Supreme Ballance Farm Environment Award winners.
This added to Charmaine’s previous success as 1993 Northland Sharemilker of the Year and the 1993 North Island AC Cameron Award.
Charmaine is has always been supportive of the industry when it comes to training and education on the business aspects of dairy farming at a national, regional and local level.
She has presented at numerous local field-days and national conferences.
Charmaine was also a member of the NZICA Primary Sector Committee for seven years. This committee represented and submitted to IRD around rural issues affecting the primary sector.
A graduate of the Agri-Women’s Developmental Trust Escalator Programme, she was so inspired by the work this organisation is doing to improve the business leadership and governance skills of our agri sector women, she joined the Board as a Trustee in 2013.
She has fostered and encouraged other dairy women to further develop their skills and provides mentoring for dairy women in this space.
Veterinarian, graduated Massey University, 1985. Initially 2 years in Sheep and Beef practice & 2 years OE.
I have been involved in dairy farming and dairy cattle medicine since 1989 variously as a milker, sharemilker, dairy vet and farm owner, and am passionate about the dairy industry and the wonderful opportunities it offers to young New Zealanders in each generation.
I left dairy clinical practice in 2011 to join the newly established LIC Reproduction Solutions Team. This work in the wider dairy industry involves developing solutions that help farmers understand and improve the reproductive performance of their dairy herds.
Our dairy farm business provides opportunity to participate in and learn from innovative industry projects such as the Headlands Upper Waipa Hill Country Dairy Project on sustainable dairy farming, and the Dairy Business of the Year Awards (in which we were finalists in 2013).We have actively invested time and effort in our rural community groups over the years, both school and church, as we raised our four children.
I have a particular interest in mentoring young people in the dairy farming and veterinary sectors and in promoting effective knowledge transfer to farmer groups.
Striving for continuous improvement and learning in both our dairy farm business and my veterinary career means taking every learning opportunity possible. A real strength of our industry lies in the collective knowledge and enterprise of farmers and their willingness to share that knowledge with each other.
The creative ideas and practical solutions I encounter in the dairy industry on a regular basis is inspirational. Learning and sharing our knowledge with each other is essential for the future well-being of our industry.
I still enjoy hands-on involvement on our farm, getting to spend time with the cows when I can!
Julie has been involved in the dairy industry all her life, and her family have been for many generations.
Julie attended Massey University after growing up studying agriculture, showing dairy cattle and being a member of Young Farmers.
After graduating, Julie spent 10 years as a Consulting Officer providing extension services to farmers in Otorohanga the Hauraki Plains and Coromandel areas. During this time, Julie and husband Brian, purchased their first farm.
Julie and Brian won the Hauraki Plains/Coromandel Dairy farmer of the year competition in 1997, and have maintained a highly productive and profitable business over the years.
Julie left the consulting officer service to start a family, working on the farm during this time.
Together, Brian and Julie grew their business from the initial 50 hectare dairy farm to their present operation consisting of a dairy platform and support block of 312 hectares.
This was done with financial assistance from banks only.
Julie has kept a keen interest in the dairy industry through being involved with the LIC shareholders council, helping DairyNZ by facilitating discussion groups in vacant CO areas, attending and speaking at seminars run by DairyNZ, banks and DWN.
With an industry good background it?s not surprising that Julie promotes the dairy industry whenever possible. She was integral in setting up and running the Hauraki Plains Rural show, has a website for her farm, and is active on Facebook and Twitter.
She has also had children from town on the farm doing a calf for calf club, this year 14 children were involved.
She has recently renewed her early interest in showing stock by registering the jersey content of their herd and attending A & P shows, an interest shared by her and Brian?s two daughters.
Following encouragement from Brian and the local community, Julie has recently been appointed to the Fonterra Shareholders Council.
She also continues to be involved on the school BOT, is Hauraki Plains Rural Show President, plays hockey enjoys adventure racing when fit enough, and spends the summer fishing with her family.
Julie’s passion is dairy farming, and she is looking forward to being able to contribute more in the future to encourage others into dairy farming, to promote the industry and to continue to support Brian in taking an innovative approach to challenges around environment, and sustainability in dairy farming.
Winner – Justine Kidd
Winner – Barbara Kuriger