Ngāi Tahu farm manager named Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year

Judges said Ash-Leigh Campbell exuded energy and passion for the dairy industry.
Judges said Ash-Leigh Campbell exuded energy and passion for the dairy industry. Photo credit: Supplied/Shar Devine

Ngāi Tahu Farm Manager Ash-Leigh Campbell from Christchurch has been named the 2020 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year.

The prestigious dairy award was announced at the Dairy Women's Network virtual awards on Wednesday night.

The other finalists were Auckland based microbiologist and biochemist Natasha Maguire and West Coast dairy farmer Heather McKay.

Dairy Women's Network Trustee Alison Gibb, who heads up the judging panel, said all three women contributed to the dairy industry in very different ways which highlighted the depth and diversity of how women are contributing to the industry in New Zealand. 

"Ash-Leigh exudes energy and passion for the dairy industry and has actively sought opportunities to both contribute and grow in an industry she loves," Gibb said.

As the farming technical farm manager for Ngāi Tahu, Campbell has been working for the South Island Māori iwi farming operation for over three years. 

In her current role, she is responsible for assisting with the management and performance of eight dairy and dairy support farms that includes 8000 cows.

After leaving high school the 29-year-old studied at Lincoln University doing diplomas in Agriculture and Farm Management and a degree in Commerce majoring in agriculture. 

It was during this time she had her first taste of the Dairy Women's Network, becoming a Dairy Women's Network Regional Leader and the driving force behind the DWN Lincoln group which has now merged into Selwyn.

She also assists with operational and environmental performance (audit and compliance), analytical projects and the implementation and improvement of sustainable farming practices. She is also Chair of the New Zealand Young Farmers organisation.   

Winning the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award was "amazing recognition" of just how far she had come in the industry, Campbell said.

"The opportunities Fonterra and Dairy Women's Network have provided have given me the confidence to step out and grow in the industry in 10 short years," she said.

"I've been bold, I've been brave and I hope this journey I've been on can showcase to other young wahine that anything is achievable."

Fonterra Chief Executive Miles Hurrell says the Co-op is proud to recognise and help develop women in dairying who set high standards for themselves and for our industry.

"I want to congratulate Ash-Leigh for winning this award and also the two other finalists. They are all outstanding ambassadors for our industry and are contributing to the pathways that will enable the next generation of farmers to succeed.

"Ash-Leigh's commitment to sustainable farming and environmental protection is clear to see, and makes a real and positive difference in her local community and our industry."

As Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year, Campbell receives a scholarship prize of up to $20,000 to undertake a professional business development programme, sponsored by Fonterra. 

Mid-Canterbury farmer personal development coach Tania Burrows won the Dairy Women’s Network inaugural Regional Leader of the Year award.
Mid-Canterbury farmer personal development coach Tania Burrows won the Dairy Women’s Network inaugural Regional Leader of the Year award. Photo credit: Supplied

The Dairy Women's Network inaugural Regional Leader of the Year award was won by Mid-Canterbury farmer Tania Burrows. 

The award, which recognises grassroots dairy farming leadership efforts from throughout New Zealand, was also announced at the Dairy Women's Network virtual awards evening. 

The other finalists were Sue Skelton, who is farming south-west of Whangarei near Waiotira, central Southland sharemilker Jessica Goodwright and north Canterbury contract milker Rebecca Green. 

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