With a population of just 450 people, the Waikato town of Taupiri might be small but it is well-known for a few reasons. There’s Taupiri mountain for one – a hugely-significant and tapu burial ground for Maori. And there’s the famous Hopin Stopin – a top-rated local café and a ‘worth-the-detour’ stop for roadtrippers travelling between Auckland and Hamilton.
Lying on the eastern bank of the Waikato river, Taupiri became a farming centre in the late 19th century and a dairy factory was built there in 1921. Dairying remains a cornerstone industry for the town and surrounding area.
Local TSR Sharne Purchase has lived and breathed dairying all he life. She grew up down the road from Taupiri, on a dairy farm in Te Kowhai. As the TSR for the Taupiri Farm Source store, Sharne looks after about 250 farmers in the Taupiri, Orini, Huntly and Te Kauwhata areas. She’s been in the role for four years and says the diversity in farm sizes and types is special to her area.
“I have farms milking fewer than 150 cows right up to farms milking 1,000-plus cows from system one to system five and autumn calving/spring calving and split calving farms. Everyone is unique!”
Even though she grew up fully immersed in dairying, Sharne knew getting qualified was important so she headed to Lincoln University after finishing high school to complete a Bachelor of Agriculture. She began her career with Farm Source 10 years ago, working her way steadily up the ranks.
“I started as sales assistant in the Te Awamutu store, then went to Hamilton, then back to Te Awamutu in the assistant manager role and finally here to Taupiri as TSR,” she says.
For Sharne, the highlight of her role is building partnerships with her farmers that are firmly based on trust.
“Having been in the role for four years I have built up good relationships with my farmers. They trust me to provide them with the right advice to help them with their seasonal requirements and it’s the best feeling when a crop or product I have recommended has helped them to achieve their goals on farm. Every farm is different and finding the right products to fit what your farmer is trying to do constantly keeps me learning and thinking,” she says.
Having the backing of specialised vendor reps is an added bonus.
“Farmers know that if I can’t answer their question straightaway, I have a whole team of experts behind me that I can turn to,” she says.
With calving in Sharne’s part of the Waikato almost over, the focus this month turns to preparing for mating.
“Calving will be tailing off so getting cows ready for mating will be in the forefront of my farmers’ minds. We are lucky to have had a pretty mild winter and growth rates have been favourable so most farmers went into calving in a good position given the dry summer we had. Farmers will also need to start thinking ahead to what crops they’re going to plant to get them through if we have another dry season,” she says.
Sharne will have her hands full with a different project altogether come summer, as she and husband James are expecting their first baby in December.