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Agriculture

From super yachts to sharemilking

Kim Stewart Oct 10
From super yachts to sharemilking
Northland’s Stuart and Deana McGregor are taking on a 50:50 sharemilking job near Whangarei.

From travelling the world building the interiors of super yachts for the rich and famous to life on the dairy farm, Northland farmer Stuart McGregor is now living his true dream.

Growing up on a beef and sheep farm in Keri Keri managed by his parents, Stuart always knew farm life was his calling.

“I went to boarding school because I wouldn’t have got any homework done—I would always have been out helping dad on the farm. Mum and dad told me I wasn’t allowed to go farming straight out of school.”

With that instruction Stuart learned his trade as a furniture maker, leading to a career fitting out cabinetry on super yachts, as well as meeting his wife, Deana, while working in the United States.

The love of farming brought Stuart back home and in 2013 the couple moved onto a 150-cow farm with Stuart working as a farm assistant.

Two seasons under his belt, Stuart sought pro-motion and moved to Kerry and Megan Chestnut’s 120ha farm on Kokopu Block Road, south west of Whangarei, taking the position of farm manager.

Hailing from a little town about the size of Auckland in Mississippi, Deana’s learning curve on the farm has been a steep one.

While she works in town she has been hugely supportive of Stuart and his farming career.

“Next year we’re taking a 50:50 sharemilking job at the top of Puhipuhi, just north of Whangarei. “It will be a big investment for us. Deana will carry on working in town and funding my dairy farming dreams. All the money we earn in wages from dairy farming will get invested back into the business to repay as much debt as possible as quickly as possible.”

Stuart has been hugely appreciative of his working relationship with Kerry Chestnut and the support he provided in finding a 50:50 role.

“About October last year I started getting itchy feet and told Kerry I was looking at moving on. Kerry agreed that I was ready to move on.

He helped me out by putting my name in the hat with 50:50 jobs and sat with me with the bank manager to make sure everything was right. Kerry trains people to leave.”

Recently placed second in the Northland Farm Manager of the Year awards, Stuart says one of the key benefits for him was gaining a deeper under-standing for what he was doing.

“You know what you do in your head but when you have to put it down in writing it really makes you think about it in more detail and there is this light bulb moment when you say ‘ah-ha that’s how that works’.”

The opportunity to look closely at personal finances was also very beneficial, particularly as Stuart and Deana prepare to commence their 50:50 sharemilking journey.

Stuart says that Deana was a valuable asset during the presentations to the judges, acting as his timekeeper and providing him with good feedback after the two judging rounds.

“The real test,” he says, “will be during our first year sharemilking.”

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