Taranaki's first Jersey cow was called Jenny. In 1876 she was walked 250 kilometres from Marton to Bell Block by her new owner. Dairying has been a big deal in Taranaki ever since and remains one of the main contributors to the region’s economy.
It’s fair to say an office job was never likely to feature on the CV of Taranaki TSR Martin Weir. Born and bred in Stratford, the rural sector always beckoned him, and retail was also a top contender, given his early exposure to it.
"I grew up around machinery, with my parents owning the local John Deere dealership, and my first job was working for them," says Martin, who credits his local roots for a successful 15 months in the TSR role at the Stratford Farm Source store.
"The area I service is my home turf so being a local has helped me grow my relationships. Farmers turn to me for advice because they trust me and the advice I give. Having said that, I’m not afraid to admit what I don’t know but I will find out," says Martin.
"We have a huge network of support, advice and the right products for our farmers."
Case in point, at the time of writing, Martin had just spoken to Graham Dale, his vendor rep at Nufarm.
"He helped me with a specific question I had regarding a weed in riparian planting and he clarified a suitable herbicide to spray for this," says Martin.
It’s no surprise cropping and re-grassing are something Martin especially enjoys. In fact, one of his social media cover photos features rows of lush and thriving crops with a snow-capped Mount Taranaki in the background.
"I really like seeing the results of what goes in the ground," he says.
And he certainly has his work cut out for him on that front, with Taranaki experiencing much more rain than normal over the past year.
"For the year to the end of July, the Stratford area has had 1.48 metres of rainfall, which is 138 percent more than average. That has a massive flow-on effect, damaging pastures which means buying feed in, which affects production and so on," he says.
Calving in Taranaki tends to happen in early August and Martin says there was plenty of magnesium flying out the door of the Stratford store.
"We’ve also seen a big emphasis on dairy hygiene and teat sprays and the focus is just generally helping farmers get what they need to get them started for the season."
Outside work, Martin likes to get away hunting. This past autumn he’s been busy duck shooting. "Even if I don’t get anything, it’s always an awesome time," he says. During the summer he enjoys fishing with his father and brothers.