A dairy consultant, a district mayor, and a leadership coach are finalists in the 2018 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year awards.
Hawke's Bay dairy consultant Rachel Baker, Tararua district mayor Tracey Collis, and Southland dairy leadership coach Loshni Manikam are in the running for the coveted dairy award, which will be announced at an awards ceremony during Dairy Women's Network's conference in Rotorua on Thursday 22 March.
Dairy Women's Network CEO Zelda de Villiers says the three finalists highlight the wide scope of skills and expertise evident among women in New Zealand's dairy industry.
"The role of women in this industry is unique and un-paralleled, and we're proud to recognise and celebrate their success," says de Villiers.
"The skills and experience Rachel, Tracey and Loshni bring to the dairy industry range from local government and leadership development through to board and governance expertise.
"These women show an unwavering commitment to progressing the dairy industry internationally, yet still retain their links and involvement at a grass roots level in their home regions and communities."
Jo Finer, Fonterra's General Manager NZ Industry Affairs, says Fonterra is once again proud to support the Dairy Woman of the Year programme as it enters its eighth year of sponsorship.
"No other award in New Zealand recognises and encourages specifically the capability and success of women in the dairy industry," says Finer.
"On behalf of Fonterra, my congratulations to Rachel, Tracey and Loshni. I have no doubt they will continue to excel in their leadership careers, and I look forward to seeing their successes in the years to come."
The 2018 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year receives a scholarship prize of up to $20,000 to undertake a professional/business development programme.
Ashburton Trading Society director and Fonterra shareholders councillor Jessie Chan-Dorman was named Dairy Woman of the Year last year.
Rachel Baker, Hawke's Bay
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, Taraura
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."
Loshni Manikam, Southland
Loshni 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 Framstrong, 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."