Canterbury North Otago sharemilker-equity farmer of the
year winners Morgan and Hayley Easton, from Papakaio. Photo
from NZ Dairy Industry Awards.
Farming and family go together for Morgan and Hayley
Mr and Mrs Easton, who are 50% sharemilkers at Papakaio, on
the lower Waitaki Plains, were recently named the 2013
Canterbury-North Otago Sharemilker-Equity Farmers of the
The couple have spent the past five years developing the
365ha property, owned by Mr Easton's parents David and Clare,
and have increased cow numbers from 450 to 1350.
Mr Easton (30) was originally from the Waitaki Valley, where
both his father and grandfather were mixed farming and
The property was converted to dairy in the early 1990s and
sold, before the family moved to the northern side of the
Waitaki River and purchased another sheep and beef farm and
converted it to dairy. The Papakaio property was bought in
Mr Easton completed a bachelor of agricultural science at
Lincoln University, spending his last year at Cornell
University in upstate New York.
On his return to New Zealand, he worked for Dexcel (now
DairyNZ) for 18 months, based out of Dunedin.
He then was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and obtained a
master of science degree in agricultural economics from
Purdue University, Indiana.
While in the US, his parents advised they were looking at the
Papakaio property and the possibility was discussed of him
returning home to help them develop and run the property.
It was an opportunity to have input into the development of
the farm and work alongside his parents, with whom he had a
close relationship, he said.
Originally from a farm in the UK, Mrs Easton (27) has a
bachelor of arts degree in geography and management from
She worked as an assistant accountant until the couple's
first child, Lockhart, was born last year.
Since his arrival, she had been a stay-at-home mother and
become a lot more involved in the farm, which was great, Mr
Both were well educated in fields supportive of an
agribusiness career, which they believed was important when
running large-scale dairy farms.
''Large dairy farms are big businesses with significant
turnover and numbers of people employed. We feel the
knowledge gained from our education has undoubtedly helped us
achieve our farming goals to date,'' Mr Easton said.
The couple were first-time entrants in the New Zealand Dairy
Industry Awards. They went to the first dairy awards dinner
in 2005 and entering was something they had wanted to do
But, as they had been developing the farm over the past five
years, they did not want to enter until they thought they
could give it their ''really best shot''.
They spent a lot of time preparing for the competition and
their presentation to the judges was the best it could be, he
A bonus of entering was that it made them justify to
themselves what they were doing, before they justified it to
As a result, they would be making some changes to one or two
of their farming systems for next year.
The Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards dinner was
held in Ashburton and Mr Easton reckoned that he and his wife
had not seen each other so nervous before.
It was a ''really awesome'' night and they were thrilled to
win. Mr and Mrs Easton, who encouraged others to enter the
awards, received prizes valued at $18,600. They were grateful
to the sponsors and conveners.
They will host a field day on their property at 732 Papakaio
Rd on April 30 at 10am. The next round of judging, for the
national final, will be held in mid-May and the national
final will be in Wellington on May 24.
The couple would love to follow in the footsteps of last
year's Canterbury-North Otago representatives, Enda and Sarah
Hawe, from Ashburton, who won the national final.
Mr and Mrs Easton's goal was to own an 800-cow dairy farm
within five years. To help achieve that, they run an expanded
artificial insemination programme to increase young stock and
improve herd breeding worth.
They also planned to take on a second sharemilking position
within two years, Mr Easton said. They wanted the farm they
purchased to be within a two-hour drive of where they
currently farmed. Farming and family ''go together for us''
and they enjoyed the area.
They had a lot of involvement with people in the US, and when
they came out and visited, they went ''home in envy'', he
The 34 finalists in the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer
of the Year, New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year and New
Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions are now all
known after the completion of 12 regional award programmes.
The finalists had a range of backgrounds and experience in
the industry but all were working hard and achieving great
results in their various positions.
That was helping them to progress their career and grow their
equity to take the next step in the industry, national
convener Chris Keeping said.