Being forced out of her home after the 2017 Edgecumbe flood has led Anahera Hale to pursue a career in farming – with her dedication landing her as a finalist in the prestigious Ahuwhenua Trophy.

Anahera and her grandmother were living on a family friend’s dairy farm after their home being flooded and the experience prompted her to study the Level 3 New Zealand Certificate in Agriculture at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology.

“I was watching the farmer drive up and down the farm on the farm bike. I thought to myself, I can see myself doing that, working with animals and being outdoors.”

The courses led Anahera to employment on a Whakatāne dairy farm.  

“I am currently 2IC/farm assistant, and I do any and every job there is to make sure our herd is well looked after and things are running smoothly and efficiently. I see myself working my way up the ranks to hopefully become a herd manager then farm manager within the next five years.”

Her can-do attitude and drive to challenge herself has landed her as a finalist in the Ahuwhenua Trophy.

The Ahuwhenua Trophy is the most prestigious award for Māori agriculture, originally launched in 1933 by Māori leader Sir Apirana Ngata and the Governor General at the time Lord Bledisloe. Since the re-launch of the competition in 2003 Māori agribusiness is now seen as an integral part of the New Zealand economy.

“I’m anxious, nervous and excited for the upcoming Ahuwhenua Awards especially because I wasn’t expecting to make it into the final round.

“I entered the competition because I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could step out of my comfort zone and do something I was not comfortable doing.

Anahera will attend an awards dinner on 14 May to find out if she is the winner.

She says she wouldn’t be where she is today without the support from her tutors at Toi Ohomai.

“The support I got whilst attending Toi Ohomai was huge.

“Also having a tutor like Rachel Nash, I don’t think I’d be where I am today without the continuous help and support she gives.”

Anahera is now a mentor for current Toi Ohomai students and says it’s rewarding seeing the students have fun while learning. 

“It’s cool seeing students engaged in the learning and also hearing the excitement in the students from being out on the farm doing hands-on tasks.

“Supporting the students in a way where they could see where I started from was a big thing for me.”

She enjoys sharing her knowledge with the current students and says one common misconception about dairy farming is that it’s just about milking cows.

“I can tell you now from the couple of years I have been in the industry, there is a lot more to dairy farming than what people think. It’s not just about milking cows.

“Something I would say to anyone looking at coming into the dairy industry is don’t think it’s all roses and daisies, you have your good and bad days but most days are what you make them.”