Episode 17 – Celebrating women in dairy

In Podcasts3 MinutesMay 10, 2024

Women in rural communities are known for wearing many different hats, and the Dairy Women’s Network (DWN) conference is a showcase of the women going above and beyond in the dairy sector and in their communities. 

The DWN’s 2024 “Enhance, Elevate, Evolve” conference was held in New Plymouth last week, and included the first ever non-dairy farmer recipient of the Fonterra Woman of the Year Award, herd health veterinarian Katrina Roberts.

Host Sheryl Haitana takes the opportunity to talk to two DWN award recipients, as well as the CEO of DWN about the inspiring work being done by women in the dairy industry.

Guests include:

  1. Katrina Roberts, Fonterra Woman of the Year
  2. Jules Benton, CEO, Dairy Women’s Network (DWN)
  3. Rebecca O’Brien, DWN Regional Winner of the Year


  1. Sheryl Haitana, Editor, Dairy Exporter
  2. Sarah Perriam-Lampp, managing director of CountryWide Media


Fonterra Woman of the Year Katrina Roberts says receiving the award as a herd health veterinarian is a great opportunity to showcase the important role vets play onfarm.

After growing up on a beef and pig farm in Australia, she developed a passion for the dairy industry, especially with the farmers themselves. She talks to Sheryl about the work she’s done with her research as a vet, as well as life as an on-call dairy vet. 

DWN’s CEO Jules Benton says the awards are a great way to celebrate women in the dairy sector, who often just quietly get on with their work. She says it’s also a great opportunity to inspire other women in the sector, to take on leadership roles and get involved in their local communities. 

DWN’s Regional Winner for 2024 Rebecca O’Brien says her award is reflective of not just her work, but of the organisations that she works with. She says without those groups she wouldn’t be doing what she is now. 

Rebecca discusses her journey from growing up in the city, to moving to a remote dairy farm with her husband, in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. She gives Sheryl an update on what’s next for her various groups, to keep locals connected in their community.