Southland farmer Harriet Bremner has been crowned the 2023 New Zealand Zanda McDonald Award winner.
Bremner is a farmer at Jericho Station, a children’s book author, and the founder and director of Gurt and Pops Ltd.
She is also a health, safety and wellbeing advocate for agriculture, and received the 2021 Rural Women NZ Rural Champion Award.
The Zanda McDonald annual award, regarded as a prestigious badge of honour by the agribusiness industry, recognises and supports talented young individuals from Australia and New Zealand.
Each year the award selects one winner from both countries.
This year’s Australian winner from Orange New South Wales, is Mitch Highett, the founder and managing director of Bullseye Ag.
His farm management company works alongside farms across NSW and Queensland with an area totalling over 500,000 acres.
He also has a cattle enterprise consisting of approximately 250 breeders and assists farmers through the Rural Assistance Authority and as chair of the NSW Young Farmers.
The winners were announced at a Zanda McDonald Award celebration evening in Brisbane on Wednesday, as part of the Awards’ inaugural two-day Impact Summit.
The Summit is a new initiative bringing together industry leaders, previous award finalists and winners to connect, elevate thought, and inspire positive changes, personally and professionally.
Bremner and Highett each pick up an impressive prize package that includes a tailored mentoring trip in both countries, $10,000 worth of education or training of their choice, media coaching, and more.
The pair will travel by a private Pilatus jet to parts of their mentoring trips, enabling them to reach diverse and remote agricultural enterprises.
Bremner was “extremely honoured and humbled and excited” to win, she told The Country’s, Jamie Mackay.
She was looking forward to getting to know Highett on their mentoring trip as well.
“I’ve only just met Mitch in the last couple of days and we’ve had a lot going on, so we haven’t had a chance to really sit down and just chat to each other ...
“I’m really excited to learn more about what Mitch does and see where he lives and all that sort of thing.”
Naturally, she was keen to show him “our little piece of paradise over in Southland,” too.
Bremner and Highett were both very deserving winners, Zanda McDonald Award chairman Richard Rains, said.
“As judges, we were really impressed with the impacts they’re making in their respective careers.
“Whilst they’re carving out quite different paths, they both possess many of the same qualities, including a strong sense of leadership, determination and spirit.
The Zanda McDonald award would put some “wind under their wings” and help Bremner and Highett go even further, through the “unique benefits” the award provided.
“We’re excited to see what the future holds for them both, [as well as] helping them on their journeys.”
The 2023 Zanda McDonald Award finalists were:
Jacques Reinhardt, 34, business consultant at Baker Ag, Wairarapa, New Zealand
Monica Schwass, 31, future farming manager at The NZ Merino Company, based in Christchurch
Charles Vaughan, 29, Queensland operations coordinator/group veterinarian for Australian Cattle Enterprises and director of Charles Vaughan Veterinary Services Pty Ltd.
Sarah Groat, 34, development officer for the government Agtech programme “Farms of the Future”, for the Department of Primary Industries, based in New South Wales.
More about the Zanda McDonald award
The award was launched in 2014 in memory of Australian beef industry leader Zanda McDonald, who died aged 41 after an accident at his Queensland property in 2013.
The Zanda McDonald award comes with a significant prize package that puts the winner in contact with some of Australasia’s biggest and best agriculture operators.
Open to anyone aged 21-35 years who live and work in the agriculture sector in Australia or New Zealand.
Learn more about the award here.