A last minute entry into the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards was the right decision for a Ōhaupō farmer who went on to be named as the national Dairy Manager of the Year.
Christopher Gerard Vila is the farm manager on 103.8 hectare farm, milking 343 cows.
The farm is owned by the Turnwald family and Christopher is the first person the family has employed that is not a family member.
"Christopher has earned their trust and respect and is growing with this opportunity," says dairy manager head judge Malcolm Scott from Westpac.
This year he was given the opportunity to buy into the farm business, and now holds a 10 per cent share.
From the awards, he won around $22,000 in prizes which included a Honda TRX 420 FM1 quad bike which was handed over to him this week from the team at The Honda Shop Te Awamutu.
Honda New Zealand is a major national sponsor of the annual awards.
"It's a great opportunity to give him a prize like this and that'll help towards carrying on his farming career," says The Honda Shop Te Awamutu branch manage Shane Blackwell.
Christopher says he felt overwhelmed by his win, especially because it was his first time entering.
"I didn't expect it at all, even back in the regional competition, I didn't expect that I was going to win," says Christopher.
Within the regional stage of the competition, Christopher won the top award as well as a merit award for leadership and a merit award for planning and financial management which resulted to his qualification to the national stage.
Not only did he win the overall New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year award, but he also won the DeLaval Livestock Management Award.
The judges acknowledged his consideration for neighbouring properties, and described him as a humble, competent and passionate dairy farmer.
"He understands that the property is in the public eye and does everything on-farm to the absolute best of his ability," says Malcolm.
"Christopher cares about the neighbouring properties, and rather than spray for weeds, which risks killing urban plantings, he will pull weeds by hand that are near the boundary fences."
He was also praised for his understanding of feed management and current knowledge of environment regulations, staying completely informed with what is happening.
Christopher, who emigrated from the Philippines 13 years ago, hopes that he'll build his assets and equities to be able to one day go share milking.