James Lawn is enjoying his new job as DairyNZ consulting
officer for South and West Otago. Photo by Jane Dawber.
Winning the National Bank Young Farmer Contest is one of
the goals of James Lawn.
Mr Lawn (23), who recently joined DairyNZ as a consulting
officer for South and West Otago, is heavily involved with
He came third in the Waikato-Bay of Plenty regional final and
fifth in the Taranaki-Manawatu regional final, but was keen
to take it a step further, win a regional final and compete
in the grand final - with the ultimate aim of taking the top
Originally from Taranaki, where he grew up on a dairy farm,
Mr Lawn said he was always going to pursue a career in
He graduated from Massey University with a bachelor of
applied science degree, majoring in agriculture and rural
In his second year at university, he was named agriculture
student of the year, an honour usually given to a final-year
student, and became the first second-year student to do so.
As well as his good marks, he believed his involvement with
Young Farmers probably contributed to the award. He helped
build the Massey Young Farmers Club's membership from three
Before getting the job with DairyNZ, he had already had
contact with the organisation, having received a DairyNZ
scholarship while at university.
He had also previously worked in the south, in the summer of
2009-10, for the Gardyne family at Gore.
Coincidentally, Pete Gardyne was runner-up in the Young
Farmer Contest this year and he is Otago-Southland Young
Farmers regional chairman, while Mr Lawn is vice-chairman.
Now living in Balclutha, Mr Lawn is also a member of the
South Otago Young Farmers Club, which has about 20 members,
and he is keen to see that number grow.
His involvement with Young Farmers had meant that he had made
friends throughout the country and it also provided an
opportunity to meet industry representatives.
Taking part in the Young Farmer Contest was an opportunity to
push himself, learn new things, cope under pressure and also
have fun throughout the process, he said.
In the future, Mr Lawn is keen to take part in the likes of
the Nuffield or Kellogg leadership programmes.
While Mr Lawn enjoyed his time in the Manawatu, it was time
to move on and he was enjoying living in the South.
He enjoyed making new friends and becoming immersed in the
"I've always said to myself, 'when you get comfortable,
you've got to move'."
He was "absolutely loving" his new job, where his main role
was creating an environment for farmer discussion.
DairyNZ represents New Zealand's dairy farmers and was
created in 2007 through the merger of Dairy InSight and
In the future, Mr Lawn hopes to own his own farm - and not
necessarily a dairy farm.
His "dream farm" would be a 600ha property, of which 200ha
was sheep and beef, 200ha was arable and 200ha was dairy, he
said, with a laugh.