NZ Dairy Industry Awards showcase talent

23 May 2024

Primary ITO learners were among the winners on stage at the 2024 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) in Queenstown on Saturday 11 May.

The prestigious industry event took place in front of a crowd of nearly 500 people at the top of Coronet Peak. The annual awards programme consists of three individual competitions: Share Farmer of the Year, Dairy Manager of the Year, and Dairy Trainee of the Year. The finalists at the awards dinner are the regional winners of each of the three competitions.

Primary ITO kaimahi were at the event to support past and present learners and employers who were in the running for awards. Training Adviser Linda McKnight was delighted to see her learner Isabella (Izzi) Panettiere take out the DairyNZ Practical Skills merit award for her strong practical skills and knowledge, and third place for Dairy Trainee of the Year.

DairyNZ Practical Skills Award and Dairy Trainee (third place) winner Isabella Panettiere. Photo credit: NZ Dairy Industry Awards

“It was very exciting to be there to support my trainees and employers,” says Linda. “Izzi was so excited to win these awards. She is currently completing her Level 3 Livestock Feeding programme with the goal of moving on to Level 4. She is a great role model, full of beans and just wants to keep learning and engaging with industry. A very well-deserved win.”

As herd manager for Fonterra’s Longburn farm, Izzi is new to the sector and farming life. Head judge Mark Laurence from DairyNZ comments that her enthusiasm, skills and knowledge are impressive.

Of the three finalists for the Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award, two are employers that have staff training with Primary ITO (looked after by Linda), in the Manawatū. Linda was thrilled to see the award go to James and Debbie Stewart, who had one of their recently completed trainees also in attendance.

“It was great to be there supporting them,” Linda says.

Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award winners James and Debbie Stewart. Photo credit: NZ Dairy Industry Awards.

It was also an exciting evening for Training Adviser Nikki Purua and husband Ben, who took out the DairyNZ People and Leadership Award. Ben completed his agriculture apprenticeship with Primary ITO in 2022.

DairyNZ judge Janine Swansson says Ben is a leader of young people joining the sector, and makes a significant difference to communities and other people’s lives. He promotes dairy farming as a great place to work.

DairyNZ People and Leadership Award winner, Ben Purua. Photo credit: NZ Dairy Industry Awards

“The NZDIA put on an amazing experience for the week for all of the national finalists,” says Nikki. "We met some incredible people doing some amazing and truly inspiring things in the dairy industry.”

Lead Training Adviser Dani Low also thoroughly enjoyed the evening, saying, “there was so much determination and passion. It really reminds you of the reason we are here for our learners. Seeing them achieve, progress and network is awesome. The dairy industry awards are always a great atmosphere - we are lucky to be a part of it.”

Congratulations to all of the award winners and finalists.

NZDIA 2024 major award winners:

Dairy Trainee of the Year: Kirwyn Ellis

  • Runner up: Monique Radford (past Primary ITO learner)
  • Third: Isabella Panettiere (current learner)

Dairy Manager of the Year: Kieran McCahon

  • Runner-Up: Teagan Gray (past Primary ITO learner)

Share Farmers of the Year: Will Hinton and Kali Rangiawha
Responsible Dairying Award: James and Debbie Stewart

Other awards won by Primary learners (past or present)

  • Ecolab Personal Growth & Development Award: Monique Radford
  • DairyNZ Practical Skills Award: Isabella Panettiere
  • DairyNZ - People & Leadership Award: Ben Purua
  • Fonterra Dairy Management Award: Trinity Jackson
  • LIC Interview Award: Trinity Jackson

Find the full list of all award winners on the NZDIA website here or find more photos here.