Celebrating dairy women

Celebrating dairy women

25 April 2018

Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year Award

Southland dairy leadership coach Loshni Manikam is this year’s Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year.

The expert in human behaviour and leadership took out the 2018 title from an impressive line-up of finalists which included Tararua district mayor Tracey Collis and Hawke’s Bay dairy consultant Rachel Baker. The awards ceremony was held last month in Rotorua as part of a gala dinner at the Dairy Women’s Network’s annual conference, which also marked the organisation’s 20th year.

Loshni, who is originally from South Africa, milks 600 cows with her husband and three children in Winton, Southland. In 2007 the couple were named Southland Sharemilkers of the Year, before progressing to their current equity partnership.

A former lawyer, Loshni then transitioned from dairy farming to leadership coaching after receiving her coaching certification in 2012. She is the founding director of Iceberg Coaching and a strategic consultant for Farmstrong, working to support the wellbeing of farming communities.

She is also a trustee of the Southern Dairy Development Trust, a coach and facilitator of the Agri-Women’s Development Trust’s Escalator Programme, and a Federated Farmers Southland executive member.

Dairy Women’s Network CEO Zelda de Villiers says Loshni has a unique ability to engage with communities and stakeholders at a range of levels.

“What stood out to us was Loshni’s dedication to growing leadership among farming communities, and her determination to change the headspace in which farmers operate – that they are more than what they do, they are not just their farms and their bottom lines.

“Loshni strives to be part of change in the industry, and she combines her experience and enthusiasm with her ability to engage at the highest levels. She is well-deserving of the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year title,” says Zelda.

Loshni says receiving the title is proof the success of “an ordinary dairy farming woman” can translate far and wide. “It shows you can raise a family and still progress through the industry, reach the top, and have a say at industry level.”

Being recognised for her work is an honour as well. “I am most passionate about people and their untapped potential. It really excites me how growing people’s awareness of their own strengths has such a positive and far-reaching impact on everyone around them.

“I see a real need in our industry to better understand the importance and benefits – both financial and non-financial – of prioritising and developing people.

“I’m passionate about creating change by working alongside industry leaders and farming communities. I think it’s important to first build relationships and understand each group’s drivers before collaborating, and I hope the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year title will open a few more doors to allow that to keep happening,” says Loshni.

As Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year, Loshni receives a scholarship prize of up to $20,000 from Fonterra to undertake a professional/business development programme.

The award was presented by Miles Hurrell, Chief Operating Officer at Fonterra. He says the award, and its associated scholarship, is an investment in the future of New Zealand dairy farming.

“We are proud to support and celebrate the women in dairying who set high standards for themselves and for our industry,” says Mr Hurrell.

Dairy Community Leadership Award

Taupo dairy farmer Kylie Leonard has been recognised for her community involvement with the 2018 Dairy Community Leadership Award.

The Dairy Women’s Network award celebrates the unsung heroes of rural communities and was also presented at the organisation’s gala dinner during their conference in Rotorua last month.

Kylie milks 400 cows at Oruanui, Taupo, with her husband Rick and daughters Kate, Isla and Eloise. Her family has a long history of farming in the Central Plateau; her grandparents walked from Te Aroha, in Waikato, to Reporoa to establish their dairy farm in the 1950s.

After completing her teacher training, Kylie and her husband entered into a farm equity partnership with her parents in 2011. Kylie continues to milk and rear calves while teaching children with learning disabilities part-time.

Kylie says it’s an honour to receive the Dairy Community Leadership award and be acknowledged for her commitment to promoting the dairy farming lifestyle.

“The dairy industry is in my heart and soul, and seeing others be involved and succeed is a really great feeling.

“For me, connection is all about authenticity and inclusion – whether that’s sharing a positive story about the industry or putting my hand up to question something. I pride myself on being a positive role model to others.”

Kylie regularly promotes and hosts visits to her farm for playcentres, kindergartens, primary schools, colleges and visitors. “Sharing a positive story and my love for our cows and our land is something I aim to do daily, whether that’s on social media, at school, at an event. I never miss an opportunity to share.

“Long-term I would love to encourage more people to enter our industry and help them take advantage of the wonderful opportunities out there.”

Kylie also supports AgITO students, chairs her children’s school’s Board of Trustees, is patron of Taupo Family Playcentre and is on the Taupo board of the Rural Education Activities Programme (REAP).

Dairy Women’s Network CEO Zelda de Villiers says Kylie’s passion for dairy farming and her community comes through in everything she does.

“She’s a big supporter of diversity in the farming workplace and is always the first to lend a hand on the farm or help someone through a personal issue.

“It was clear that Kylie is very visible in her community and leads by example. Her passion for the dairy industry is infectious, and her dedication to sharing her passion and the knowledge and skills she has built up make her a truly worthy recipient of the Dairy Community Leadership award,” says Zelda.

Leonard will receive a scholarship, sponsored by ASB and Tompkins Wake, to attend the Community and Enterprise Leadership Programme at the University of Waikato.