The Dairy Women's Network inaugural Regional Leader of the Year award has been won by Mid-Canterbury farmer Tania Burrows.

The award, which recognises grassroots dairy farming leadership efforts from throughout New Zealand, was announced at the Dairy Women's Network virtual awards this evening.

The other finalists were Sue Skelton, who farms south west of Whangarei near Waiotira, Jessica Goodwright, a Central Southland sharemilker and North Canterbury contract milker Rebecca Green.

"Our Regional Leaders are the vital lifeblood of our organisation," Dairy Women's Network CEO Jules Benton said.

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"It's so important to acknowledge their efforts and celebrate their leadership in the dairy industry and their communities.

"All four finalists showed a real passion for leadership and for making a real difference, not only in their farm roles but for the Network and in their personal lives as well. All were committed to ensure the dairy industry thrives".

Burrows said it was a "huge honour" to be the first winner of the Regional Leader of the Year award.

"I have a real passion for helping people grow," she said.

"My goal is to be able to support Regional Leaders with a mentor programme to grow themselves as leaders in their communities and in the industry."

Burrows and her husband have three children, and work together as lower order sharemilkers.

The couple farm 2000 head of stock between their dairy farm and run-off block, with four-to-seven team members on-farm each season.

Burrows began her leadership journey as an early childhood teacher. She then progressed to management roles where she was responsible for up to 150 children, their families and a team of seven teaching staff.

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As well as being involved in their dairy business full time, Burrows also volunteers as a Regional Leader for the DWN and dabbles in leadership coaching.

The Regional Leader of the Year award, which represents over 70 volunteer Dairy Women's Network Regional Leaders around New Zealand, is supported by insurance brokers Crombie Lockwood.

Burrows demonstrated a real strength in connecting and helping other people in her community to thrive, said head of key partnerships for Crombie Lockwood David Rayner.

"She received some very strong recommendations for the award from Dairy Women's Network members and everyone commented on the way in which she lives the DWN values.

"Apart from the effort that she makes within her Dairy Women's Network region she also provides assistance to other regions and the wider dairy community. There was clear evidence of leadership and Tania is a very worthy recipient of this award."

As the 2020 DWN Regional Leader of the Year, Burrows receives registration for the New Zealand Women's Leadership Symposium in Auckland in late September. This includes travel and accommodation and two mentoring sessions to support her on her leadership journey.