Kahu gets ready to be put to the test
Kahu Parata’s rise through the dairy industry ranks and his passion for farming will be on display this year as he enters the 2018 Ahuwhenua Young Maori Farmer Award. Kahu manages Landcorp’s Totara Farm at Cape Foulwind.
He joined the farm in 2013 as a dairy assistant with ﬁve years of industry experience, and quickly made 2IC. He became manager at the start of this season.
His daily grind is a lot less physical today, and planning and people management have been real highlights of his new role, but not without their challenges.
“I’ve become more of a role model to the staff, I have to teach them and I like that,” he says. He manages four full time staff and a couple of casual calf rearers. He says he operates a ‘nice guy’ management style.
His 2IC Carl Drumm is taking part in Landcorp’s 2IC development programme, with Kahu supporting him through that, mentoring him as he progresses through the course. Another young staff member is getting stuck into his Primary ITO, as is Kahu.
A new staff member James Baker was coming to the farm once a week after school for work experience through the Gateway programme.
James has now left school and Kahu has taken him on as a calf rearer and casual farm assistant, and is keen to mentor this likeminded young guy through the beginning of his dairy career.
On-farm judging for the 2018 Ahuwhenua Young Maori Farmer Award begins in March/April and Kahu is preparing for that. “I want to show the judges how I’ve come up through the ranks and how I have a real love of farming,” he says.
Kahu has been farming since he left school, and his rise through the ranks hasn’t taken him too far from home. He is located 10kms south of Westport where he grew up.
Totara Farm milks 1100 cows on 480ha effective. The country is sandy and like most parts of New Zealand this season, is suffering an early dry period, after a particularly wet winter and spring.
“We got dry early, in November, and it was pretty challenging,” he says.
“It was the ﬁrst time we’ve been this dry this early, and the ﬁrst time I was having to make the big decisions!” Those included starting to buy in lots of bales in November, and commencing in-shed feeding. “It got us through,” he says.
“Now we’ve pregnancy tested a lot earlier this year, just after New Year’s, where we normally wouldn’t test until late February early March. From there we culled 100 cows, including poor milkers and cows with high somatic cell counts.”
A bit of rain late January turned the farm back to green and brought some growth, but Kahu wasn’t too optimistic there would be more in store.
“The forecast is looking pretty hot and dry, so hopefully we’ll do alright.”