Wedding follows sharemilkers' win

Southland-Otago Share milkers of the Year Steve Henderson and Tracy Heale are delighted with their win. The regional final was held in Gore on March 1. Photo by Yvonne O'Hara
Southland-Otago Share milkers of the Year Steve Henderson and Tracy Heale are delighted with their win. The regional final was held in Gore on March 1. Photo by Yvonne O'Hara
Last week was a big week for Steve Henderson and Tracy Heale, of Winton.

Not only did they win the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Southland-Otago region Sharemilker and Equity Farmer of the Year title at the MLT Event Centre, Gore, on March 1, they were married last Friday.

In their second season, the 50/50 sharemilkers milk 320 cows on 110ha near Winton for Adrian and Bev Simmonds; they have a 125,000kgMS target. Mr Henderson said they were both ''rapt'' and excited at their success, especially as it was the second time they had entered and they had not placed last year.

''We didn't have a lot of expectations to win the award but we were hoping to get a place,'' Mr Henderson said.

''We entered last year but did not get a place so we took everybody's advice on board, and re-did our presentation.''

Lower order sharemilkers Daniel and Emily Woolsey, of Gore, placed second and Otautau lower order sharemilkers James Deans and Angela Coleman were third.

In addition to winning the prestigious title and $11,000 in prizes, Mr Henderson and Ms Healey will represent the region at the national competition in Auckland in May.

However, despite the big night and the standing ovation they received when their names were announced, they were back to work on Sunday.

''The cows don't know what has changed,'' he said.

They also had wedding arrangements to complete. The couple won the Westpac Business Performance and the LIC Recording and Productivity merit awards.

''They were the ones we wanted to get as they are the key things for our business.

Mr Henderson won the Otago Farm Manager of the Year title in 2009.

They are both involved in Young Farmers, are on the Southern Field Days committee and are both in the Winton Volunteer Fire Brigade.

They hope to move into farm ownership.

He said it was important to listen to advice and also, if competitors did not succeed in the dairy awards the first time, to keep re-entering as it was worth it.

Convener of the regional awards James Hartshorne was thrilled with the success of the event and pleased with the positive feedback about the competition and the venue.

''The calibre of the contestants was really high and we had from small to large farmers.

''It was great to see so many people having a really good time and to see how powerful the industry is.

''It was exciting to know the Southland-Otago region is in good heart.''

- by Yvonne O'Hara