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Thames’ Teegan Gray was awarded the 2024 Dairy Manager of the Year trophy. Photo: SUPPLIED

Hauraki dairy award winners celebrated

The Auckland and Hauraki region’s Dairy Industry Awards were held on March 7 at the Thames Civic Centre, and there were winners from across the district. 

The big winner on the night was Teegan Gray from Thames, who was named the 2024 Dairy Manager of the Year. She also took out merit awards in the dairy manager category for livestock management, dairy management, pasture and feed management, people and leadership, and cow manager personal planning and financial management. 

Teegan is a farm manager on Neil and Glenda Gray’s 160ha Thames farm, milking 478 cows.

The fifth generation of the Gray family to manage the farm, she cites a united vision for the farm and good infrastructure as two strengths of the business.

The 33-year-old holds a Bachelor of Agriscience from Massey University, and believes the dairy

industry could do better with accepting females into high management roles.

“You often have to work twice as hard to prove you are capable of the same opportunities on-farm,” she said. “I hope I can be a positive influence for other women coming through the industry, that dairy farming is a sustainable career for females.”

Runner-up went to Steven Pratt in Patetonga. The 32-year-old said he was very proud to be providing food on a global basis.

“I’m proud to be working on the farm that has been in our family for 110 years and aim to keep it as a sustainable and viable business,” he said. 

Steven holds a Bachelor of Agriculture from Lincoln University and is farm manager on David and Paula Pratt’s 170ha, 430-cow Patetonga property. 

Third place went to Waerenga’s Owen Clifford, who also received the environmental sustainability merit award. Owen is the farm manager for Ross and Tracey Laing on their 200ha, 500-cow Waerenga property.

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There was no winner for the 2024 share milker of the year, as the entrant scores did not meet the required benchmark. However, a runner-up was awarded, with Ngatea couple Brad and Courtney Edwards receiving the honour, along with merit awards for leadership and business performance.

Brad and Courtney are 50/50 sharemilkers for Maureen Martinovich on her 90ha, 240-cow property at Ngatea.

“We entered the awards as we thought it was a good opportunity to showcase our business and to know the ins and outs of our business and how we run it compared to others,” they said.

The 23-year-olds are both active in the community with hockey and Hauraki Young Farmers, where Courtney is Vice Chair.

Their two young sons motivate them to achieve their goals. 

“We’ve worked our butts off to get where we are today and are proud we achieved a 50/50 sharemilking role at a young age.”

Share milker Casey Meiklejohn from Mangatāwhiri received merit awards for people and culture; animal wellbeing, recording and productivity; and environmental sustainability. 

Casey is contract milking for Jamie Lyons on his 88ha, 222-cow Mangatawhiri farm. 

Caitlin Snodgrass from Awaiti was the runner-up in the 2024 dairy trainee of the year category. She is a farm assistant on Stu and Karen Davey’s 200ha, 566-cow Morrinsville property.

The first-time entrant was encouraged to experience the Awards by peers in the Hauraki Young

Farmers club and her employers, Brendan and Tessa Hopson, who were 2020’s Share Farmer category winners.

“I realised how great the opportunity was to network, review what skills I’ve gained and discover

where next to focus my attention,” Caitlin said. 

“I was so nervous to enter the Awards being fresh to farming but I’m thrilled I just gave it a go.”