From cows to beer: The farmers proving a career change is possible

Over the past few months, all New Zealanders have had to reinvent all parts of life from how we work to how we shop to how we go to school.

One couple who know all about reinventing themselves is James and Elissa Cooper.

In recent years, the farmers-turned-brewers have had to change everything in order to survive.

The couple bought a sheep and cattle farm in Taupō 10 years ago but when new legislation to protect Lake Taupō came into effect, a new much-lower limit was put on what their operation could do, meaning they had to have fewer cows and less runoff. And with that limit also came less income. 

That meant they had to find something else to do to stay afloat.

James says an idea came to him in a "lightbulb moment" while visiting Australia one time. He was inspired to make beer, in a move that eventually led to Lakeman Brewing.

Speaking to The Project, James said since they started "it's just been one big learning curve".

"We were pretty green at the start," Elissa said.

With so many other Kiwis looking at the prospect of having to change careers and start again after COVID-19, James advises people to "take the courage".

"Roll your sleeves up, hold your head high and don't be afraid to ask for help."

Elissa says it's also important to "get good advice [but] make your own decisions, go with your gut".

Watch the video.