Federated Farmers regional policy manager South Island Kim
Reilly describes the farming sector as being of huge
importance to New Zealand. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Kim Reilly recalls how she was a ''ridiculous tomboy'',
growing up in a farming family on the Taieri Plains, - so it
was no surprise that she pursued a career in the rural sector.
Dunedin-based Mrs Reilly (41), a senior policy adviser for
Federated Farmers, has taken over from Matt Harcombe as
regional policy manager South Island, following his move to
the Ministry for Primary Industries.
Working for the rural lobby organisation provided her with
the challenge of utilising her tertiary qualifications, while
also maintaining her passion for the rural lifestyle and a
firm belief in the importance of farming.
She recalled how she grew up ''in woolsheds and dairy
sheds'', on her family's mixed dairy, sheep and beef
After leaving school, she studied law and commerce at the
University of Otago, then headed overseas for three years.
Jobs followed in Alexandra and Wellington and she returned to
Dunedin in 2000. Now with three children, she described it as
a great place to raise a family.
Mrs Reilly, who joined Federated Farmers in 2011, said
farming had become increasingly complex, from a regulatory
point of view, and she enjoyed being able to ''take a load
off the farmers'', by hopefully making their lives easier.
The agricultural sector was of ''huge importance'' to New
Zealand, yet she believed that farming was underestimated and
never given its true recognition.
She enjoyed seeing the passion for farming, whether from the
organisation's members or its national board, and she also
loved being able to see projects ''right through''.
While her past focus had been predominantly on the
Otago-Southland region, Mrs Reilly's new role meant she had
to get up to speed with issues South Island-wide. She was in
charge of the South Island policy team which numbered six,
There was a lot happening throughout the island, particularly
in regards to the environmental and water.
Having good family support meant she was able to balance work
and family commitments. Growing up on a farm was a huge
advantage, as it allowed her to have an understanding of
Farming had changed ''hugely'' since she was a child. She was
constantly learning from farmers and whether she was talking
to board members or farmer members, there was a huge range of
knowledge that needed to be tapped, she said.
Hopefully, farmers could see that the organisation could help
to make a difference, she said.