How Tangaroa Walker is growing young farmers' futures

How Tangaroa Walker is growing young farmers' futures

28 January 2021

Tangaroa Walker is the epitome of putting in the hard yards to reap the rewards. Describing himself as “the boy who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks”, his early years were pretty tough. But he had a dream and knew how to do the mahi. His reward is being named the Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer of the Year in 2012, running a successful dairy farm, reaching thousands on social media, publishing a book and growing the futures of other young farmers with the Farm 4 Life Hub.

The Journey

Having published Farm for Life: Mahi, Mana and Life on the Land, Tangaroa wouldn’t be suspected of growing up without reading a book – but that’s just what his story is about.

Adopted twice and attending six different schools by the time he was six, Tangaroa lived to play rugby. But he soon discovered farming, and earnt pocket money helping his uncle milk the cows and feed the pigs and dogs. Today, he manages a successful dairy farm in Southland and he loves it.

When you’re out there working under the sun and in the wind, you are literally working with Mother Nature,” Tangaroa says.

“The birds are chirping, the cows are mooing and they all have character. You’ve got your dogs who are your best friends that come out with you in rain, hail or shine, and you’ve got your workmates. It’s a bloody awesome environment to work in.”

As well as finding love for farming, Tangaroa says his passion is in “bridging the gap” and helping people understand the source of food.

“It not a packet, it’s a farm. I want to show people what actually happens on farm.”

To do that, Tangaroa has become a community and industry leader as the much-loved face of Farm 4 Life. He shares practical, inspiring and crack-up videos on everything from farming to fishing, finance to whanau, management to mental health through the platform.

With over 42 million collective views of his videos from 180,000 followers across Farm 4 Life’s social media platforms, Tangaroa’s farming life is now attracting more than 1.2 million views every month.

The Farm 4 Life Hub

With success already found in engaging young farmers in Farm 4 Life, Tangaroa has, in recent months, been bringing another dream to life; the Farm 4 Life Hub, a dairy education platform dedicated to delivering knowledge, empowerment, and opportunity to anyone connected to the dairy industry.

He is grateful to his whanau for the chances they gave to him and now feels a sense of responsibility to work with others, particularly young Māori, and get them into farming.

“Helping others to learn is something I hold very close to my heart,” Tangaroa says.

“No matter where you come from, if you do the mahi, you can make it happen.”

Operated like an “on-demand” video tutorial library, Tangaroa’s new Farm 4 Life Hub is divided into modules and sections. All video tutorials feature industry experts and follow on-farm best practice and health and safety guidelines. Each tutorial is searchable and trackable – enabling subscribers to become “Hub qualified” as they watch them.

The Hub has been available since June 2020 and already has more than 600 video tutorials covering everything from calf rearing and lameness, to grass production and fencing. As seasons progress, so does filming and video numbers approached 1,000 by the close of season one. Season two will see the number of videos grow to more than 2,000.

To enable subscribers to make the most of all the learning modules on offer, the Farm 4 Life Hub supports three types of users; the employer, the farm employee, and non-farm workers.

Using the Employer View, owners and managers can actively oversee their team’s video learning on the Hub. They can easily select tutorials for their employees and check back to assess the viewing progress.

Tangaroa sees this interaction creating a learning culture by increasing the skill level across teams and building a positive workplace by forming common systems and processes for tasks.

For farm employees, the Hub allows them to watch tutorials set by managers, proactively learn about upcoming farm jobs, or simply watch any tutorials that take their interest.

The full access, on-demand tutorials accelerates learning, giving anyone watching them the confidence and experience before they need it.

Tangaroa hopes employees won’t have to ask “the dumb questions” on farm because they will already know the answers. He adds the Hub uses various learning styles allowing employees to be proactive in their learning.

Finally, for those not on farm but still actively interested in the industry, the tutorials are available to give an in-depth understanding of on-farm techniques and strategies. Tangaroa sees the Hub supporting the likes of industry professionals, lifestyle farmers and equity shareholders.

To take the Farm 4 Life Hub to the next level, Tangaroa is working on an academic user interface to allow tutors and students to interact with one another in a similar way to employers and employees. Other innovations for 2021 include on-farm system tools, calculators, and resources for employers to run their businesses.

Through both Farm 4 Life’s social media and Hub subscription platforms, Tangaroa is bringing knowledge to anyone, anywhere, anytime who has the mindset and willingness to learn Farming 4 Life.

The significant contribution Tanagroa brings to our industry is invaluable, Farm Source is proud to support him to contiune to inspire other young farmers. Copies of Tangaroa’s Farm for Life: Mahi, Mana and Life on the Land are available through all Farm Source stores. He will also be touring selected stores hosting a BBQ for those who want a chat and a signed copy.

Article supplied by Farm 4 Life.