A new recruit under the Federated Farmers/Ministry of Social Development ‘Get Kiwis on Farm’ programme is off to a flying start to her dairy career. Macee Latimer, 18, is Northland’s Dairy Trainee of the Year and is heading to the national Dairy Industry Awards in Christchurch next month.
“She’s certainly streets ahead of where she should be for her age,” Macee’s employer, Katrina Pearson, says.
“Macee is just fantastic – she’s quite driven and passionate about what she does. Definitely one of those ones that you really want to retain.”
Macee was raised on a dairy farm in Mangakahia, about 30 minutes north-west of Whangarei, but like pretty much everyone went through her school years with various careers in mind – “ballerina, then horse racing. I wanted to be a pilot at one stage, and I thought about the Navy….
“But then I wanted to be a dairy farmer and I stuck with that one,” Macee says. “I guess farming is in my DNA.”
Straight out of Whangarei Girls High she worked on Baden Bicker’s farm for nine months while she also completed the Whangarei A&P farm internship programme.
She really hit her straps when Katrina took her on as a farm assistant. Hardly surprising that Katrina, Northland’s Share Farmer of the Year in 2021 and the employer of the region’s 2021 Dairy Trainee of the Year (Bella Wati), steered Macee towards having a go at this year’s DIA competition.
“It’s a great way to put yourself out there, network with others and develop your skills,” Katrina says.
Macee agrees. She enjoyed the Skills Day and modules on everything from break fencing to dairy shed hygiene and identifying good and bad pasture. The top 5 candidates from that event progressed to an interview with judges, which Macee says turned out to be more like a rapid-fire, timed quiz on all things dairy.
The day FedsNews called, she was putting the polishing touches to her video for the judges at Nationals.
Asked “why dairy?” Macee replies: “I like cows and I like the country and the lifestyle – it’s more than just a job.
“Cows are very inquisitive. If you take the time to get to know them, you find they’re each different – they’ve got their own personalities.”
Both Macee and Katrina are enthusiasts for the ‘Get Kiwis on Farm’ programme – and of course the $1000 of Kaiwaka-made wet weather gear.
“Bloody excellent,” is Macee’s quick summation. “I love my Kaiwaka stuff – I’ve been wearing my leggings everywhere, and my helmet.”
Katrina also recommends it to other employers. She says the paperwork is not too bad, and it’s much easier when new recruits are learning the ropes in quality and comfortable kit.
Feds/MSD starter deal includes wage subsidy
Federated Farmers is now into a third contract with partner The Ministry of Social Development for the ‘Get Kiwis on Farms’ initiative. It’s open to New Zealanders whose previous employment has been impacted COVID-19 and/or who are out of work.
As well as the Kaiwaka gear for the new recruit, employers get a Federated Farmers job contract and a $6624 wage subsidy (spread over 24 weeks) for taking on one of these qualifying new workers.
Pastoral support will be available to help the new staff settle into their role. Federated Farmers staff member Mils Gray will check in with the new workers to see how they’re going, try and answer any questions they have, put them in touch with training options and next steps in their career development and, if they wish, hook them up with RESH (the Rural Employee Support Hub).