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Kids propel dad into spotlight

Kim Stewart Dec 12
Kids propel dad into spotlight

There is perhaps no greater reward than the pride your children place in your achievements. Such was the case when Central Hawke’s Bay’s Gerard Boerjan was named 2018 NZ Dairy Farm Manager of the year, following on from his win in the regional Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa contest.

Telling the story about his entry to the competition, Gerard says that for a couple of years his three young children ‘constantly nagged him to enter the competition’, following initial encouragement from the farm’s owners, Trevor and Harriet Hamilton.

“Then my youngest one came home from school and said ‘dad are you very busy?’ I said ‘no – not really’, and so she sat me down behind the computer and said you have to fill out this form. So I did and thought, oh well this isn’t too bad because I can see how I compare to other managers.”

On the night the awards were announced, Gerard’s two eldest children, boarders at Feilding High School, smuggled a phone into the hostel so they could hear about the results – having to stay awake till 10.00pm to find out – very proud of their high achieving father.

Not only did Gerard take home the top award, he was also rewarded with four merit awards – Employee Engagement, Wealth Management Leadership, Power Play and Financial Management and Planning.

“Obviously I felt quite excited having won it,” says Gerard. “It was recognition for everything that I had done in farming in my various roles up until then – you know being recognised for my hard work. It’s very special to be recognised like this.”

Gerard enjoys the variety of skills needed to do the work, the variety of work and the challenge of dealing with what ever cards are dealt through the season – weather, payout, staffing – it’s never straight forward.

“You know farming is quite a good career option – especially in New Zealand – you can do quite well if you put in the hard work and you’re willing to learn and take on responsibility. You have to do the best you can otherwise you will just be mediocre and mediocre is not good enough.”

Gerard says being close to family throughout the day and watching his children grow up is another key reason he loves the farming lifestyle.

Born in the Netherlands and attaining a Bachelor of Science degree, Gerard has managed dairy units in Portugal, Brazil and New Zealand over a farming career spanning 30 years.

In 2012 Gerard took up his current role of farm manager on Hawke’s Bay Pastoral, a large-scale dairy operation near Takapau, milking 1430 cows off a platform of 400ha.

With absentee farm owners, Gerard’s role comes with both responsibility and autonomy, making all day-to-day operational decisions.

He is also an advisor in the neighbouring farm, which belongs to the same owner, mentoring the farm’s manager. Of the merit awards won on the night, Gerard says he is most proud of the staff engagement award, which was also his Power Play topic.

“Staff management is probably one of the most rewarding aspects of the job. I get a real buzz if I have staff on the farm and they leave a more rounded person with more skills. That’s great and I play a part in teaching them or mentoring them – I get great satisfaction out of that.”

Gerard says his partner, Marlene Honings, continues to play a big part in his farming career, providing support, on farm help and a listening ear when required.

This article was brought to you in association with the following businesses…

  • Case IH Agriculture
  • Middle Hills Contracts Ltd
  • Farmlands
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