Things are heating up for the prestigious Zanda McDonald Award, with one Australian and two New Zealanders announced today as the three finalists for the 2020 trophy.
The trans-Tasman award is widely seen as a badge of honour in agriculture, recognising passionate and outstanding young professionals working in the sector.
The 2020 finalists are Dr Elle Moyle, 29, from Victoria, Jack Raharuhi, 27, from Westport NZ, and James Robertson, 22, from Auckland NZ. The three were selected from a shortlist of six applicants, who were interviewed by the judging panel last month in Wellington.
Moyle, a District Veterinarian for Agriculture Victoria also owns her own sheep and beef property in Hamilton Victoria. She has a focus and interest on biosecurity and animal health, checking health of livestock and unexplained disease with the aim of improving their overall condition and welfare. Moyle was a finalist in the national Nuffield Scholarship earlier this year, is a guest lecturer at both La Trobe and Melbourne University and a volunteer firefighter.
Raharuhi, Buller Dairy Group Operations Manager for Pāmu Farms in Westport was the winner of the Ahuwhenua Young Maori Farmer of the Year Award in 2016. In his current role at Pāmu he oversees 4 dairy farms and a machinery syndicate at Cape Foulwind, and Health and Safety leadership for 10 dairy farms. Raharuhi is also heavily involved with coaching, training and mentoring staff, as part of his leadership role in the West Coast 2IC Development Programme.
Robertson hails from a dairy farm in the Waikato, and is a Sales Graduate for Fonterra in Auckland. He was the 2019 FMG NZ Young Farmer of the Year recipient, and is actively involved in a number of industry groups including Worksafe, Future Food Network and Young Farmer, where he’s currently secretary for the Auckland branch. Robertson is committed to sharing his passion for the industry and sharing good news stories via his strong social media channels.
Richard Rains, award Chairman and member of the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) – the Australasian networking group behind the award – says the judges were really impressed and inspired by all six of the shortlisted applicants, and the job of narrowing down to a final three doesn’t get any easier.
"It would be an understatement to say that these young individuals are doing great things in agriculture. The achievements they’re all making in their given fields are nothing short of exceptional, but the top three all really have the X-factor. James is actively involved in numerous industry bodies and organisations, giving a youth voice where it counts, Elle is both a vet and a farmer making real inroads in optimising animal health and welfare, and Jack is delivering fantastic results by inspiring, leading and mentoring his teams and creating a really positive team culture. James, Elle and Jack all have a real passion for what they do. They are great ambassadors for our sector, and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to help them make a broader impact through this award.”
The winner of the award will pick up an impressive personal development package, including mentoring with industry leaders, and travel that includes chartered flights on a private jet to reach remote and diverse farming operations around Australasia. Furthermore, all six of the shortlisted applicants are able to take advantage of other mentoring opportunities, to assist in their own career development, and more importantly, to positively impact the broader agriculture industry.
The three finalists will attend the PPP Conference in Christchurch NZ in March 2020, with the winner being announced at the Gala Awards Dinner on 31 March.