Aran and Sharleen Sealey look forward to watching the dairy industry evolve with environmental improvements while still contributing to the New Zealand economy.
The couple were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year category at the Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at the Awakeri Events Centre on Thursday night.
The other big winners were Hayden Goodall who was named the 2021 Bay of Plenty Dairy Manager of the Year, and Dayna Rowe, the 2021 Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year.
Aran and Sharleen are 50 per cent equity partners with Eric and Margaret Smeith, who are Sharleen’s parents.
They milk 420 cows on the 160ha Galatea property and won $9,550 and four merit awards.
“Farming is an ideal place to raise our family and work alongside our family. We’re able to utilize our skills and hobbies to benefit the farm business,” says Sharleen.
Aran entered the dairy industry in 2009 after completing a course through Te Awamutu college, managing for Eric until 2013 when he and Sharleen progressed to contract milking on the same farm, and are now in an equity partnership.
Future farming goals include continuing to build their herd, with farm ownership the ultimate goal. “We’d like to own the farm we are raising our family on as third-generation owners.”
“Sharleen’s grandfather was the original farm owner and is our inspiration during hard times,” says Aran. “We think about what he did for our country at war and what he did for his community.”
“We are grateful he chose our farm to raise his family.”
Aran holds a Certificate in Dairy Farming Level 4 while Sharleen is currently studying towards a Diploma in Agribusiness Management.
Sharleen and Aran Sealey.
Challenges the couple have faced and overcome include learning about employer responsibilities and the juggle of work and family.
“Work/life balance is huge important,” say the couple. “We have a good team with different strengths that complement each other.
The Sealeys say being able to work alongside family strengthens the business unit. “We are able to share goals.”
“Forming our company is a huge success we are very proud of.”
The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown and Westpac along with industry partner DairyNZ.
Runners-up in the Bay of Plenty Share Farmer of the Year category was John and Aleshia Macdonald, who won $3,750 in prizes and one merit award.
The couple are 50/50 sharemilking on Paul and Heather Warneford’s 120ha Waimana farm, milking 270 cows.
They enjoy working with cows and in the outdoors. “We really enjoy breeding cattle, working together and the career opportunities the dairy industry offers,” they say. “It’s a great place to raise our family.”
The MacDonalds identify obtaining their first sharemilking role, improving their herd and increasing cow numbers as some of their biggest successes and would like to change some public perceptions of the dairy industry.
Future farming goals include increasing their profit, growing stock numbers and reducing debt leading to farm ownership.
Jordyn Crouch and Isaac Algar placed third in the Bay of Plenty Share Farmer category and won $2,500 in prizes and three merit awards.
The couple are contract milkers for Robin and Claire Barkla, milking 1150 cows on their 285ha property.
Jordyn and Isaac both hold a Bachelor of Ag Science from Massey University and feel excited about the changing landscapes around environment and regulations.
“We are ready to react and see this may open some opportunities for us.”
The winner of the 2021 Bay of Plenty Dairy Manager of the Year category won the 2017 Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year and believes the Awards helped him to communicate, develop his self-esteem and self-confidence and increase his farming knowledge.
Hayden Goodall won $8000 in prizes plus three merit awards and is farm manager for Matt Gow on his 215ha Matatā farm, milking 700 cows.
“On a relational level, the Awards helped me make connections and network with other farms throughout the country and develop close connections with farmers rural professionals in my own region,” says Hayden.
Prior to entering the dairy industry seven years ago, Hayden was in a labouring job and wanted to pursue a career to create a brighter future for his family.
“I had no prior background in farming and began as a farm assistant in 2014 and progressed to 2IC over the next four years,” he says.
“We left this farm to manage a 500-cow property and have found our way back to where it all started to manage this awesome property.”
Hayden is proud of how much he has learned and grown as a person, going from a city boy to a farm manager in four seasons.
“I’ve been able to set personal targets to create a brighter future and explore new and greater possibilities for myself and my families.”
“After the whirlwind of a year with Covid in 2020, it was awesome to see the agricultural industries being recognised as big providers for New Zealand and its economy,” says Hayden.
“It’s a privilege to be a part of and it’s great for the dairy industry to get some positive exposure.”
Hayden identifies finding a work/life balance as a huge challenge. He and his wife Chelsea have three daughters and trying to find time to spend with family, personal interests and keep on top of day-to-day running of the farm is a perpetual challenge.
“Over the past seven years I’ve had to learn and grow in an industry totally unfamiliar to me,” says Hayden.
“Every job has its ups and downs but tomorrow is a new day and job satisfaction outweighs those harder times,” he says. “Call it character building with light always at the end of the tunnel.”
“I’m grateful for my supportive wife and wonderful family unit – they have made the challenges doable and all play a huge role in helping me overcome times when I have been stressed and fatigued.”
Future farming goals include contract milking next season and to continue to gain equity and reach our goals of sharemilking and owning a run-off.
“We have a wonderful future ahead of us in the dairy industry.”
Hayden Purvis is the runner-up in the 2021 Bay of Plenty Dairy Manager category and won $2,750 and two merit awards.
He is farm manager for Peter Overdevest and Tania Akehurst on their 148ha, 400-cow property at Galatea.
“The Awards give you the opportunity to go into detail about what you do on-farm, and gives you a much better understanding of why we do things on-farm the way we do,” he says.
Currently in his seventh season dairy farming, Hayden loves the cows and routine of a dairy farm. “I didn’t want to be stuck in an office all day.”
Hayden holds a Bachelor of Agriculture and says moving away from family to begin farming in the North Island was tough to begin with. “I now realise it was my destiny to be where I am.”
Third place in the Dairy Manager category went to Thomas Houston who is farm manager for Jim and Gill Houston on their 65ha, 160ha Opotiki property. He won $1,750 in prizes and two merit awards.
The first-time entrant was motivated to enter the Awards as a step to becoming more involved in the industry and community. “I wanted to learn about what I could work on for the future.
Dayna Rowe is the 2021 Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year and won $6000 in prizes and three merit awards. She was runner-up in the same category in 2020.
“The networking opportunities alone from entering the Awards have been awesome and I believe having your name recognised in the industry and your community for positive reasons is always a good thing,” she says.
“Entering also gave me a lot more confidence in my capabilities and allowed me to throw myself into the deep end which I believe has sped up the rate I’ve learnt things in the industry.”
Growing up on the family farm in Pongakawa, Dayna spent a lot of time learning about farming and animals. She had begun studying towards a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Theatre Studies when she realised she’d rather be stomping through paddocks than treading the boards.
She is currently herd manager for Grant and Ngaire Rowe on their 289.67ha Pongakawa milking 1000 cows.
“I’m very passionate about farming and I’ve discovered more and more aspects within the industry that I’m interested in.”
“I’m excited for the future generation of dairy farmers in New Zealand,” says Dayna. “I believe we grew up being involved in conversations where we had to think deeper regarding our environment and sustainability.”
“I think we are extremely capable of facilitating conversations between the right parties to create a more cohesive plan for sustainable dairying.”
“I plan to continue to be open minded about what we can achieve and to help to encourage people to be comfortable with these conversations and to be part of the solution.”
Dayna’s biggest future farming goal is to get to a point where her parents can completely retire from the farm and hand over to me. “I’d say that’s my dad’s goal too!”
Runner-up in the Dairy Trainee category was Thomas Lundman, who works for Michael and Linda Mexted on their 140ha, 550-cow Whakatane property. Thomas won $1500 in prizes.
The first-time entrant hoped to gain a better understanding of his own skill and development through the Awards programme.
“I enjoy the challenge of putting myself to the test and I like to take every opportunity presented to me.”
Prior to entering the dairy industry in June 2020, Thomas worked as a nature guide on boats, buses, walking tours, school camps and at the Te Anau Glow-worm Caves.
“The stability of the industry appealed to me as does working outdoors with my hands,” he says. “I was looking for more life experience and a challenge to learn.”
Third place in the Dairy Trainee category went to Quinn Morgan who is farm assistant on Peter Laing’s 155ha property at Otakiri, milking 570 cows.
Formerly working the health and fitness industry, farming presented an ideal lifestyle change from city life in Australia.
“I’m excited to be part of programmes within the industry such as FarmFit, FarmStrong and The Farm4Life Hub,” says Quinn. “I’d love to be part of anything involving mental health and physical fitness.”
“I’d also like to changed how the dairy industry is perceived,” he says. “I’d heard negative things about the industry before being employed, only to find out the complete opposite.”
The Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards winners field day will be held on April 23rd at 260 Whirinaki Road, Galatea S/N Fonterra 22216 where Share Farmers of the Year, Aran and Sharleen Sealey are equity partners. Also presenting at the field day will be the region’s Dairy Manager of the Year, Hayden Goodall and Dairy Trainee of the Year, Dayna Rowe. Further details on the winners and the field day can be found at www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz.
Share Farmer Merit Awards:
• DairyNZ Human Resources Award – Jordyn Crouch and Isaac Algar
• Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Aran and Sharleen Sealey
• Federated Farmers Leadership Award – Jordyn Crouch and Isaac Algar
• Honda Farm Safety, Health and Biosecurity Award – Aran and Sharleen Sealey
• LIC Recording and Productivity Award – Aran and Sharleen Sealey
• Meridian Farm Environment Award – Aran and Sharleen Sealey
• Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Josh and Aleshia MacDonald
• Westpac Business Performance Award – Jordyn Crouch and Isaac Algar
Dairy Manager Merit Awards:
• Bay of Plenty DIA Most Promising Entrant – Brendan Teka
• BlackmanSpargo Rural Law Ltd Employee Engagement Award – Hayden Goodall
• The Business Results Group Ltd t/a Stem Rural Accountants Leadership Award – Hayden Purvis
• Vetora Bay of Plenty Feed Management Award – Hayden Purvis
• DeLaval Livestock Management Award – Hayden Goodall
• Fonterra Dairy Management Award – Thomas Houston
• MyMilk Power Play Award – Thomas Houston
• Westpac Personal Planning & Financial Management Award – Hayden Goodall
Dairy Trainee Merit Awards:
• Bay of Plenty DIA Most Promising Entrant Award – Rachel Billinghurst
• King Farm Services Ltd Farming Knowledge Award – Dayna Rowe
• Archway Group Ltd Community & Industry Involvement Award – Dayna Rowe
• I.S Dam Lining Communication & Engagement Award – Dayna Rowe
• DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Georgia O’Hanlon
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