11 May 2017
Invercargill dairy farmer wins Dairy Community Leadership award
It was the call of the land that saw Katrina Thomas return to the farm after 21 years working in the tourism industry in New Zealand and abroad.
Thomas is this year’s Dairy Women’s Network (DWN) Dairy Community Leadership award winner, winning the title out of a group of three nominees which included dairy farmers Alison Ferris, from Te Kuiti, and Cathy Prendergast, from Arohena in Waikato. The awards ceremony was held tonight in Queenstown as part of a gala dinner during DWN’s annual conference.
The award recognises the voluntary role dairy farming women have in leading their communities and sharing their time and skills beyond the farm gate.
Born and raised on a sheep farm in Tuatapere, Southland, Thomas and her husband James milk 840 cows in Wreys Bush; converting from sheep farming to dairy in 2011. Thomas managed the conversion of the farm while being Branch President of Central Southland Plunket.
On receiving the Dairy Community Leadership award, Thomas says “it’s wonderful to have my time and commitment as a volunteer to my community acknowledged in front of my peers, family and friends.”
Thomas receives the award for her active participation and leadership within her community. She is DWN’s Invercargill regional convenor and helped set up a regional hub for the network for the Otago and Southland regions.
She says she gets a lot out of seeing newcomers settle in and enjoy rural living. “It’s great being able to work with all the new people I meet and help them settle in and see for themselves how great our community is,” she says.
In addition to her volunteer roles with DWN, Thomas is also president of the Takitimu Primary School’s PTA and the Western Tennis Association. Each month she produces the Takitimu Community Newsletter and runs its Facebook page. She is currently working with Southland Hospice and Winton FarmSource to establish a calf rearing scheme for this season.
DWN CEO Zelda de Villiers says Thomas puts her years of experience and knowledge to use well for benefit of her community.
“Katrina is very generous with her knowledge,” says De Villiers. “She’s one of those people who can build great relationships wherever she goes and is always asking ‘how can I help?’
“She embodies exactly what we look for in a dairy community leader, she’s approachable and down-to-earth, but works hard and keeps the wheels turning. I congratulate her on her achievements; she’s thoroughly deserving of this award.”
The Dairy Community Leadership Award is sponsored by ASB and Tompkins Wake, and the selection panel comprises DWN’s CEO, ASB and Tompkins Wake representatives and a DWN regional convenor.
Thomas receives a scholarship for the Community Enterprise Leadership Foundation leadership programme, delivered in conjunction with the University of Waikato’s management school.