As the prospect of rain cheers Frances Coles, she reflects on a happy event for some of her immigrant staff.

Like much of the rest of the country, we are in the grips of a prolonged dry spell – so I’m actually not too upset about the prospect of having to cancel plans for an outdoor birthday party for the kiddos this weekend, with rain forecast to come through over the next three days.

In fact, I might just pop away for a second to hang a load of washing out and organise a BBQ dinner to be really sure to make it rain… 😉

Challenging weather aside, we’ve still been having a good season here in South Canterbury, and the focus is already moving to next season with a couple of our team progressing to more advanced roles in the industry or looking for a slight change in career path.

This reminds me of a column I wrote last year having a bit of a rant about dealing with Immigration NZ when employing migrant workers, so I thought it only fair to share a positive immigration story with you all too.

Recently Aaron and I had the privilege and honour of seeing a special family who had been involved in our farm team for many years officially become Kiwis!

Rondinalo Gomes first joined our team in 2008 and over time both his wife Joelcia and son Caio worked onfarm too, rearing calves and milking over weekends and school holidays. Their daughter Ana also helped her mother with calves sometimes as she got older too.

Ron worked on various farms in our business over the years, and Jo was often praised by graziers for the great job she did rearing our calves.

Caio became so passionate about agriculture that he achieved a sought after space in the Geraldine High School Primary Industries Academy in order to further his studies in the field.

While they have always embraced many aspects of our nation’s identity (such as being sports mad and willing to give anything a crack) they were also willing to share aspects of their Brazillian heritage with our team, and in 2014 organised an awesome BBQ which is still talked about to this day.

After working in the industry for more than a decade, Ron decided to take a break from farming about a year ago, but the family’s ties to the industry are still strong with Jo now working at the Synlait factory in Dunsandel.

The Gomes’ are some of the kindest, most generous people I know, and I’m delighted that their links to our country are now official. We’ve already considered them to be Kiwis for a long time though and believe they’re a great addition to our population for sure.

Watching them, and about 40 others from various nations, make their declarations to ‘Queen and Country’ at the official ceremony got me thinking about what a big deal it was for them all to be able to call New Zealand home.

I also have to admit it made me a little ashamed to realise that sometimes I take many of the things that make our country special for granted. Democratic rights such as freedom of choice and speech, the joy of living in peace with no imminent threats of war; and the natural beauty of the land we live in.

As farmers we are likely to be confronted with scenes of natural beauty on a regular basis, therefore will tend to be more mindful of it maybe than some city dwellers are, but let us not forget the other privileges we are blessed with by being able to call Aotearoa our home from the day of our birth.