Morgan Easton, the most recent recipient of the award, hails from NZs Waitaki Valley, where both his father and grandfather were mixed farming and cropping farmers. The original property was converted to dairy in the early 1990s and sold, after which the family bought another sheep and beef farm on the northern side of the Waitaki River and also converted it to dairy. The current Papakaio property Twin Terraces was bought by his parents, David and Clare, in 2008.
Easton completed a Bachelor of Agricultural Science Degree at Lincoln University, spending his last year at Cornell University in upstate New York.
On his return to New Zealand, he worked for Dexcel (now DairyNZ) for 18 months, based out of Dunedin. He was then awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and obtained a Master of Science Degree in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University, in Indiana.
While in the United States, Easton’s parents told him they were looking at the Papakaio property and discussed the possibility of him returning home to help them develop and run the property.
In 2013, Easton and his wife, Hayley, won the Canterbury-North Otago Sharemilker-Equity Farmer of the Year title, and went on to be runners-up in the national competition. That year he also attended the US-NZ Pacific Partnership Forum in Washington DC.
Easton, along with his wife and parents have subsequently bought a neighbouring farm which they have redeveloped. The couple, who have three young children, are now sharemilking the two properties, milking a total of 1750 cows, and the synergies between the two - including sharing staff and machinery - worked well, he said.
Thrilled to have taken out the 2017 award, Easton was particularly attracted to the tailored mentoring provided by PPP members. He is using the opportunity to tap into their expertise on how best to continue growing and thriving in a family business.
Not one for resting on his laurels, he also has his private plane licence, and is a registered Marriage Celebrant.