Dairy woman award finalists show 'depth and diversity'

Heather McKay, Natasha Maguire and Ash-Leigh Campbell are finalists in this year's award.
Heather McKay, Natasha Maguire and Ash-Leigh Campbell are finalists in this year's award. Photo credit: Supplied

The diversity of women working in the New Zealand dairy industry has been highlighted with the announcement of the finalists for this year's Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award. 

The award aims to recognise and celebrate high performers in the dairy industry.

Ngai Tahu Farming Technical Farm Manager Ash-Leigh Campbell from Christchurch, Auckland based microbiologist and biochemist Natasha Maguire and West Coast dairy farmer Heather McKay are all in the running for the award managed by the Dairy Women's Network and announced in early May.

Dairy Women's Network trustee and a member of the awards judging panel Alison Gibb said all three finalists came from such different directions and perspectives which highlighted the depth and diversity of how women are contributing to the dairy industry in New Zealand.

"The underlying connection is the absolute passion that each one has for the dairy industry.

"With renewed respect for the industry we work in and the enormous challenges in the months ahead, there are exciting times in the leadership space when you see the calibre of the women coming through," said Gibb.

As the farming technical farm manager for Ngai Tahu Campbell works on eight farms with 8000 cows, Maguire is a co-founder and director of Farm Medix, inventors of innovative diagnostics and animal health products and McKay is farming near Greymouth with husband Kelvin and their two daughters.

Fonterra Chief Executive Officer Miles Hurrell said the co-op was proud to support the award.

"No other award in New Zealand recognises and encourages the capability and success of women in the dairy industry.

"This year, we see another impressive group of finalists who are driving the dairy industry forward and making a positive difference in their respective communities," said Hurrell.

The 2020 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year receives a scholarship prize of up to $20,000 to undertake an approved professional development programme.

The finalists for the awards were selected by a judging panel that also included Janette Rosanowski from Fonterra, Sandy Burgham, Grahame Fitzgerald from Ballance Agri-Nutrients and 2018 winner Loshni Manikam, who lives in Southland milking 600 cows with her husband and three children.

Trish Rankin from Taranaki was named Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year last year.