Redemption possible – ask Jack
Jack Raharuhi reckons he was pretty rebellious as a teenager, despite being well brought up by his parents.
Westport didn’t have too much to offer him apart from drink and drugs and plenty of mates happy to keep him off the straight and narrow.
“I didn’t have a bright future,” he says.
“Dad had a friend, Dion Fox, at Landcorp’s Basset Farm, and he gave me a casual milking job when I was 14. He was a hard bugger and I was young and dumb, but he kept me in line.
“After a couple of years, I thought, ‘What am I doing?’ and went full-time at 16 to give dairying a go.
I signed up with AgITO level three and started studying.
At 19 I was semi-qualified, and met my wife, Charlotte, and things took off from then.
She sorted me out a bit, and I studied real hard.
“I got promoted to second-in-command at Basset, and into an accelerated management programme with Landcorp. Two years of intensive training, and if I ticked all the boxes, I’d get a management job.”
He didn’t get the first job that came up, but after a year of “really going for it”, he had two years as second-in-command and then manager at Basset Farm until last year.
Landcorp has three adjacent dairy farms near Cape Foulwind; Basset, Tram Road and Totara.
At one stage, as well as managing Basset, he was overseeing Tram Road right through the calving season.
At Basset, he undertook an environmental programme which involved fencing 42 kilometres of waterways, and in partnership with conservation volunteers, planted flaxes, manuka and other natives to capture excess nutrient.
He redesigned the farm map.
His staffing programme involved not employing a 2IC, rather having two 3ICs, each spending three months in charge of either pasture or animals, and then swapping over: “By the end of the season I had two highly skilled 2ICs to flick on to Landcorp.
It gave me a reputation as a trainer.” in 2016 he won a West Coast environmental award for milk suppliers and the Ahuwhenua Young Maori Dairy Farmer title.
His nominator, Landcorp’s business manager for the region, Rebecca Keoghan, became Dairy Woman of the Year.
Landcorp recognised him as being among its top 10 per cent of dairy-farm performers, based on criteria such as animal management, milk quality, environmental impact, staff health and safety and profitability.
This year, he took over as manager of Totara Farm, a 480-hectare property at Cape Foulwind,
milking 1100 kiwicross cows.
For six months he and Charlotte have seven staff, then four for the rest of the year.
Charlotte cooks them all breakfast in the staffroom each day to ensure that these single workers are well nourished.
On wet days, Jack oversees their ITO studies. He likes to employ locals if possible; his main criteria are personality and motivation.
Personal development, training and experience follow from there and contribute to the farm’s profitability.
His dream is to move into an operationalmanagement role overseeing perhaps five farms and establishing a training centre where his skills can be used within Landcorp.
At 24, he is proud of his personal success.
And a driving force within him is the hope that other young people, especially those running off the rails, may find inspiration in his story thus far, and discover that redemption is possible – and that given the right help and opportunity, life can be pretty sweet.