Conference hailed as huge success

About 120 young farm workers registered for the BrightSide session during the event. From left are Garry Gicaraya, of Woodlands, Brayden Frost, of Benmore, Tangaroa Walker, of Dacre, and Side committee member Amy Johnston. Photo: Courtney Heke-McColgan
About 120 young farm workers registered for the BrightSide session during the event. From left are Garry Gicaraya, of Woodlands, Brayden Frost, of Benmore, Tangaroa Walker, of Dacre, and Side committee member Amy Johnston. Photo: Courtney Heke-McColgan
With names like Gilbert Enoka, Liam Malone and Ben Allomes, this year's southern dairy conference was a huge success, says Simon Topham.

While the organising committee chairman was looking forward to returning to dairy farming, he was delighted with the success of the South Island Dairy Event (Side), which attracted about 400 people to the ILT Southland Stadium in Invercargill.

Keynote and motivational speakers included Real Insight chief executive Sue Lindsay; Paralympian blade runner Liam Malone; dairy farmer Wayne Langford, the Yolo (You only live once) farmer; and All Blacks mental skills coach Gilbert Enoka.

There was also a range of workshops, as well as the inaugural BrightSide, organised by committee member Amy Johnston, who developed it as an afternoon session designed especially for young farm workers and offering advice on finances and career paths.

Waiting for the workshop sessions to finish during last week's South Island Dairy Event in Invercargill are (from left) Bridget McNally, of Oamaru, Ronda Ridsdale, DairyNZ, Invercargill, and Lynette Van Niekerk, DairyNZ, Cambridge. Photos: Yvonne O'Hara
Waiting for the workshop sessions to finish during last week's South Island Dairy Event in Invercargill are (from left) Bridget McNally, of Oamaru, Ronda Ridsdale, DairyNZ, Invercargill, and Lynette Van Niekerk, DairyNZ, Cambridge. Photos: Yvonne O'Hara
Consultant Alex Hunter and Chilean dairy farmer Maka Morales, of Mokatua, told the story of Ms Morales and husband Miguel Ortiz, from when they first arrived in the country with no job, no money and no English, to being well on their way to farm ownership.

Mr Topham was delighted with BrightSide's success.

''We had a really good uptake, an amazing uptake,'' Mr Topham said.

''I think Side will be really keen to do something similar for next year.

''It shows there is a demand for the sessions.''

He said he had received a lot of positive feedback about the whole conference.

''Gilbert Enoka was amazing.

''So was Liam Malone, with an awesome sense of humour.

Enjoying a break after a workshop are (from left) Shane Griffin, of Dublin, Jaime McCrostie with Gretchen Worker (9 weeks) and partner Ben Worker, of Thornbury.
Enjoying a break after a workshop are (from left) Shane Griffin, of Dublin, Jaime McCrostie with Gretchen Worker (9 weeks) and partner Ben Worker, of Thornbury.
''All the keynotes aligned really well with our vision and our theme, 'Creating our Tomorrow'.''

Other workshops looked at new research, wintering systems, social media, biosecurity and health and safety, and there was a virtual tour of the Southland Dairy Hub.

Ben and Nicky Allomes, along with Nick Bailey, who have a dairy farm in Tararua, discussed how they managed staffing systems.

''They were brilliant and people loved them,'' Mr Topham said.

Steve and Tracey Henderson, who are dairy farmers near Bluff, talked about making spring as simple as possible.

''That's what farmers like: hearing other farmers talking about what they tried, what successes they had, what worked and what didn't,'' Mr Topham said.

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