Phillip Colombus, of Oxford, placed third in the 2014 New Zealand Dairy Industry awards' New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year competition, and also won the Fonterra Best Practice and Primary ITO Human Resource Management merit
awards. The awards and 25th anniversary ball were held in Auckland on May 9. Photo by Yvonne O'Hara
Equity farmers Kevin and Sara O'Neill did Culverden proud
during the 2014 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards when they
placed second in the country's premier dairy competition, the
Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year awards, last Friday
The couple oversee an 1190-cow herd on a 340ha farm in North
Canterbury and won $18,000 in prizes.
Phillip Colombus, a farm manager from Oxford, placed third in
the 2014 New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year competition,
and also won the Fonterra Best Practice and Primary ITO Human
Resource Management merit awards. He also won $8000 in
Charlie and Jody McCaig, of Hawera, won the
Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year category and Duncan and
Kim Fraser, of Halcombe, were third.
The overall farm manager winner was Nick Bertram, of
Featherston, with Simon Player, of Kerepehi, second.
Mr Colombus works for Ngai Tahu Farming on a 350ha effective,
He said he did not think he was ''in with a chance'' prior to
the awards and enjoyed his time in Auckland.
''Anything was a bonus in that competition.''
Apart from his success, he said one of the key highlights was
'' just being in a room with so many talented dairy
''There are so many variables, as the other regions are
different, all the farms' sizes are different, and all the
stuff we deal with are different.''
He said being able to network and meet other dairying people
was the main reason he entered the competition. The national
awards and anniversary ball were held at Auckland's Sky City
Hotel on Friday night.
Mr O'Neill said they enjoyed their time in Auckland.
''It was a bit of a roller coaster,'' he said.
''We did not get any merit awards and we thought we were out
of the running, so to get second was a really pleasant
''We felt very humble to be there among the winners.''
He said the McCaigs had done a great job.
''Full credit to them for what they have achieved and good
luck to them in their ventures.''
They and the other contestants were ''wined and dined'' by
''It was really good to meet the other entrants and to
network with them.''
He said they enjoyed the opportunity to ''compare battle
stories'' and talk to the other competitors about their
strengths and difficulties and how they dealt with them.
Mr O'Neill paid tribute to wife Sara.
''The awards dinner was the culmination of six months of hard
work and the lion's share has been done by Sara.''
He said fellow equity partners James and Belinda McCone, of
Waiau, as well as their parents and other family and friends,
had also attended the awards event to support them.
''We have only been in the industry for two years and want to
thank everyone who supported us, from the guys on the farm to
''We really appreciate it.''
Southland also had a good evening with Josh Lavender, of
Lochiel, placing second in the New Zealand Dairy Trainee of
the Year competition and Southland/Otago Farm Manager of the
Year Jared Crawford, of Riverton, winning the Meridian Energy
Leadership merit award.
The category winner was 24-year-old Ruth Hone, of Taupo, who
was the first woman to win the title in the history of the
competition. More than 650 people attended the national
awards dinner and ball, with tickets selling out in one day
earlier in the year.
The Art Deco-themed ball was held to celebrate 25 years of
the national Sharemilker of the Year competition and many of
the past winners attended.
Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy spoke about the
event, talking of the enormous impact that the dairy industry
had on the New Zealand economy, and said it ''contributed $2
million an hour''.
Southern Rural Life reporter Yvonne O'Hara attended the event
as a guest of the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Trust.