Primary ITO qualifications set dairy farmers on success pathway

16 August 2022

Farmers building their skills by studying towards qualifications have shone as winners in the recent 2022 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

Of the thirty awards given, 24 were awarded to current or past Primary ITO learners showing that training is leading to success and excellence for learners. Congratulations to our learners for their achievements in the awards and in progressing their mahi. And a huge shout out to the employers who have supported their staff through this training. Read more about each award winner below. 


Jaspal Singh, South Canterbury
Winner: 2022 Dairy Manager of the Year 
Merit Awards: DeLaval Livestock Management Award; Fonterra Dairy Management Award; Meridian Environmental Sustainability Award 
Qualification: New Zealand Apprenticeship in Agriculture (Dairy Farming) (Level 4)

Dairy Manager of the Year winner Jaspal Singh came to Auckland from India to do an IT diploma, but after completing that in 2015, he decided to give working in the dairy industry a try and took a job at a dairy farm.

Jaspal was hooked and began his Primary ITO apprenticeship in Dairy Farming. Now he and wife Ruby are focussed on one day buying their own dairy farm.

Over the past seven years Jaspal has completed four qualifications with Primary ITO and been promoted to Manager of a Waimate dairy farm. Jaspal says it’s a team effort with Ruby working alongside him as a farm assistant, having also completed two Primary ITO programmes.

“Primary ITO has helped us all through this journey. The support has been awesome,” says Jaspal.

Jaspal’s qualifications include the Level 3 Certification in Milk Quality, Level 2 National Certificate in Agriculture (General Skills), Level 3 Certificate in Animal Husbandry and the Level 4 New Zealand Apprenticeship in Dairy Farming. Ruby has completed the Supplementary Credit Programme in Milk Quality Level 1 and the New Zealand Certificate in Dairy Livestock Husbandry Level 3 with Primary ITO.

“Before the study, I could do things on the farm, but the programmes have helped me to understand how and why things are done.”

Jaspal says the study has advanced him to his current role, and he and Ruby have set future goals. “Our goal is to become a farm owner and we are going step by step.”

Next season Jaspal will become a variable order share milker and is looking toward being a 50:50 sharemilker and owning his own cattle in the future, with the ultimate goal of the couple owning their own farm and herd.

He also wants to keep learning and advancing so is planning to study Level 5 Production Management next.

Robyn Maré, Waikato  
Runner Up: 2022 Dairy Manager of the Year 
Merit awards: Ravensdown Feed Management Award; ANZ Personal Planning & Financial Management Award 
Qualification: New Zealand Certificate in Production Management (Level 5)

Robyn has begun contract milking at 480 cows at Pukeatua in the Waikato region after moving from the West Coast.

She says studying with Primary ITO has extended her knowledge and given her a plan for the future.

“My training both on and off farm has given me an understanding of why we do what we do and the confidence to take next steps in my career.” 

“I’ve now got the knowledge and skills to identify issues and deal with whatever may come up on the farm and where to reach out if I do need assistance. It’s also enabled us to look at how we might be able to improve our systems on farm.”

Robyn says entering the awards was also a good learning experience, prompting her to assess her farm management and future goals in the industry.

Hayden Purvis, Waikato  
Third: 2022 Dairy Manager of the Year 
Qualification: Completing New Zealand Apprenticeship in Agriculture (Dairy Farming) (Level 4)

Hayden manages Lakeland Downs Ltd in the Waikato settlement of Ngāhinapōuri milking 800 cows. He previously managed a dairy farm at Galatea, near Whakatane.

He says studying with Primary ITO has helped him to trust his own knowledge and reinforced relevant information he needs to know in an ever-changing industry.

It was important for the younger generation entering the industry to understand how and why things are done, and how what they do affects the farming business and environment.