New trustee ‘passionate about rural communities’

New Otago Community Trust trustee Raewyn van Gool. PHOTO: SHARRON BENNETT
New Otago Community Trust trustee Raewyn van Gool. PHOTO: SHARRON BENNETT
Dairy farm owner and cherry orchardist Raewyn van Gool is one of the three new Otago Community Trust trustees.

She along with Dr Michael Stevens, of Dunedin, and Rebecca Williams, of Cromwell, were recently appointed as trustees.

"The Otago Community Trust interests me as way of helping empower community groups.

"I have always been really passionate about rural communities and I see it as a way of giving back to those communities in a different way.

"It is something I have not done in the past and am looking forward to it."

Mrs van Gool and husband Tony are from a dairying background and have owned their 152ha, 430-cow dairy farm in Waituna for 20 years.

They employ a 50:50 sharemilker and have lived in Cromwell for eight years.

"We have been born and bred in the North Island.

"We have three children and our daughter is in Europe, and when our sons came back from their OE, they decided to move to the South Island, which they did.

"We didn’t have anything holding us up north anymore, so we moved down here too."

The move worked well as they continued their involvement in the dairy industry, and established their 6.3ha canopy area Lake Terrace cherry orchard.

"Our son Ben manages that and I do the administration, financial and legal work."

Until a year ago, she continued to work in volunteer governance, chairing the New Zealand Landcare Trust’s Southland catchment project, which established 23 catchment groups, with the Sustainable Farming Fund.

"I chaired it up until the project finished in June and Thriving Southland is now driving it."

She is a Dairy Women’s Network member, has mentored farming women who want to move into off-farm paid work, has been a dairy environmental leader and has also chaired the Southland Dairy Leaders Advisory Group.

"The Waituna catchment was a hot topic and I was involved with that.

"Now I want to step back from Southland and spend a bit more time at home.

"Central Otago interests me as it is where we live and where we have our businesses.

"It is a slightly better fit at our stage of life as we are both semi-retired."

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