The fantastic aspect of the dairy awards is that farm business partners and employees that enter our awards do gain an opportunity to demonstrate the real value they offer their farm owners and partners.

Hawke's Bay Wairarapa is looking forward to announcing the winners in the 2019 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, when it names its three winners at a regional dinner early next month.

Regional manager Nicky Allomes say the awards recognise excellence and achievement on farms throughout the region and aim to help the career progression of passionate dairy farmers.

The winners of the 2019 Hawke's Bay Wairarapa Share Farmer, Dairy Manager, and Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions will be announced at the awards dinner at the Copthorne, Solway Park, Masterton, on Saturday.

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The entrants will compete for cash and prizes worth more than $52,000 and the honour of winning the regional titles.

Mrs Allomes says she was pleased with the high calibre of entrants in this year's awards, a sentiment that has been reiterated by this year's judges.

"The fantastic aspect of the dairy awards is that farm business partners and employees who enter do gain an opportunity to demonstrate the real value they offer their farm owners and partners. "The awards are so much more than a competition to win — the contacts, education and learning, business development and experience are invaluable."

Mrs Allomes, with her husband Ben, has a long history with the awards, which resulted in them winning the Share Farmer of the Year in 2008.

"For us, being involved with the awards initially gave us insights into our business that we wouldn't have had. We took on board the judges' feedback and applied what we could, and we were able to grow our business in so many different ways. Now it's all about the connection.

"We both really enjoy the contact with everyone involved in the awards programme — entrants, sponsors, judges, committee volunteers, there's a big human effort required to run and awards and it's such a neat thing to be a part of."

Mrs Allomes says their focus is now on making the region's awards a great night for all and she's looking forward to seeing the theme of Through the Years coming to fruition.

"We have a fantastic team of volunteers on the regional committee and they have been working so hard to bring together all the elements of the night together.

"In recognition of the 30th anniversary of the awards nationally, we have chosen to head 'Back to the 80s'.

"The dairy industry awards aim to help people progress in the industry, and the awards night is such a fun and motivating event for those who attend and participate. It's really supportive and demonstrates the true co-operative nature of the industry we are proud to be a part of."

Life-changing experience

The effect of the Dairy Industry Awards on individuals can be life-changing, says NZ Dairy Industry Awards general manager Chris Keeping.

"The enthusiastic atmosphere, acknowledgement of achievement and raised awareness of possibilities has a lasting effect."

The awards provide a learning and growth platform for young and emerging farmers as they progress in their careers.

"We provide an opportunity for entrants to learn about themselves and the industry, to connect with other like-minded people, and to grow their business, their career and themselves personally," says Ms Keeping.

"As an organisation we take immense pride in contributing to the development of the new generation of farmers," she says.

"Seeing previous entrants and winners progress in their careers and take on leadership roles in the dairy sector and their local communities is hugely rewarding."

The awards strive to keep pace with the rapidly changing dairy industry to remain relevant and reflective of what is required to be a successful farmer for both today and tomorrow's world and changes to the visa criteria for Dairy Trainee and Dairy Manager categories last year reflect this.

Other key initiatives include a pilot investigating the suitability of the Share Farmer programme as a learning pathway for the NZ Diploma in Agribusiness Management, establishing regional ambassadors to identify and support prospective entrants and the introduction of the Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award that recognises those dairy farmers who are respected by their farming peers and their community for their attitude and role in sustainable dairying.

"Participants find that even the act of entering is of benefit when seeking further career positions as employers recognise that by entering, people show a willingness to scrutinise their own performance and seek to improve aspects that could be better," says Ms Keeping.

Networking is a big benefit of the awards with contacts being developed around the country and within the different sponsor businesses.

The awards are supported by national sponsors DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda Motorcycles, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown and Westpac, along with industry partners DairyNZ and Primary ITO.

The national awards have been hosted by many MCs over the past 30 years, including Jon Gadsby, Phillip Leishman, Mark Leishman, Gary McCormick, Bull Allen, Mike McRoberts. They have all been impressed with the passion and commitment of the entrants.

The awards have evolved over the past 30 years into a programme that caters for the challenging and ever-changing dairy industry. They remain as relevant and prestigious today, as they did when they first began.