Pat Macaulay is a woman who has had an influence in a lot of farming families' lives, through both her work with Rural Women New Zealand and as co-ordinator of the Otago Rural Support Trust.

She was a trustee on the trust from 1997, and was asked to became co-ordinator in 2015 during a bad drought in her ''home patch'', the Strath Taieri.

Macaulay said she got satisfaction from helping farming families during stressful times.

''I enjoy sitting down with Mr and Mrs Farmer and chewing the fat to see if I can help them get through the situation and make some decisions,'' she said.


The trust's volunteers, while being completely independent and non-judgemental, provide an ear and advice to help guide their clients towards decisions about their best actions and their future.

''We can't make decisions for them but we can help them get moving so they are not burying their heads in the sand,'' she said.

''If I help put a smile on farmers' faces then my job is done, but not every case has a happy ending.

''Sometimes the farm has to be sold and they have to move on.

''There is life after farming and sometimes making the decision to sell up and move on can be better [for them].''

She said the Ministry of Primary Industries held a gathering of trust co-ordinators in Christchurch for training and support two weeks ago.

''It was quite intense and a great initiative.

''I came away feeling that I was doing my best for Mr and Mrs Farmer.''


When not involved in community work she enjoys gardening when she has time, and spending time with her six grandchildren, ranging in age from 18 months to 10 years.

She was originally from a farming family in West Otago.

She and husband Keith had a sheep and beef farm on the Strath Taieri, then moved to a lifestyle block on the Taieri 13 years ago.

Now the couple are of ''no fixed abode'' and living with family in Mosgiel, but only until they find another property to buy after selling their lifestyle block.

''We sold [the Strath Taieri farm] because there were one too many droughts.

''Keith always said when we would have a drought one year in early mid-1970s, when we were first married, but when we sold in 2003, it had turned into four droughts and one good year, and our average rainfall was 18 inches.

''I refuse to say we are retired, more semi-retired, and Keith works as a casual tractor driver.''

Macaulay is in her second term on the Rural Women New Zealand's National Leadership Council for the Lower South Island.

Her role is to support members and branches to develop projects that helped their communities.

''I also liaise between the members on the ground and the national board at head office.''

Members from the Otago and Southland branches do ''amazing work'' in their communities, she said.