Chris Neill

A quietly confident young man committed to a life journey in dairy has been selected as Northland’s Dairy Trainee of the Year 2019.

The Daniel Waterhouse story to date is underpinned by commitment to people who have inspired, supported and encouraged him and he has responded by stretching himself to give them pride in his achievements. He credits his parents Lucia and Pip with developing his strong work ethic and willingness to work hard for what he wants. His two older sisters and a large extended family are his support network, along with the community with which he closely engages. The South Hokianga settlement of Waimamaku is centre of the universe for 23-year-old Daniel, where the family own 40 hectares and the start of his learning.

His schooling included primary at Maketu and secondary at Kamo where he got involved in TeenAg which taught him some basic farming skills, introduced him to dairying and connected him with partner Jessie McLeish.

Getting back to Waimamaku was Daniel’s focus after leaving school, where running the family farm and fencing developed the practical skills which Daniel believes were recognised by the judges in the DairyNZ Practical Skills Award he received.

“Daniel’s approach to the practical tasks were competent in every section,” judges said. “His verbal communication was excellent and fully correct in best farm practice. His health and safety procedures shone through. We believe Daniel will have a bright future in the dairy industry.”

Needing more challenge than the small farm and with encouragement from Jessie, Daniel took a role with O’Sheas’ S&S Farms at Kokopu which was disrupted within the year by a serious health issue. Back at Waimamaku to recover, he spent three years relief milking in the community while also building his own beef herd and studying.

He credits Jessie with encouraging him to start Primary ITO study and motivating him to get serious again about dairying. Judges observed Daniel’s “obvious passion for progression through the industry, which was displayed by his clear and concise goals that involved himself and
his partner. We were impressed with the speed he has completed the Level 3 AGITO course” when they awarded him the Building and Fire Service (2008) Ltd Community and Industry Award.

With a goal to own his own farm, in Waimamaku, Daniel and Jessie took roles as farm assistants on the 550ha farm of West Coast Dairies, a high-input farm split calving 700 cows which are milked through a 70-bail rotary; 91ha (16.5%) of the farm is flat, irrigated and susceptible to flooding with the balance being easy hill.

It’s a busy farm which has complemented Daniel’s learning. Tractor driving, calving, working in a large team, and time management to get all the tasks completed on time are now part of his skill base. Between this practical learning and his studies, judges saw Daniel display “a calm and considerate approach to his answers.

His knowledge of feed allocation and budgeting was very good and will help him in his future career in the dairy industry. We were pleased to see that Daniel had a good understanding of the health and safety procedures necessary for best practice”. With this they awarded him the Northland Field Days Farming Knowledge Award.

Daniel is looking forward to his life journey in dairying. He enjoys the challenge of hard work, training and learning. While he would like his farming future to be financially rewarding, his primary focus is family and living a satisfying life.

He sees this focused on Jessie, family and Waimamaku, along with training his dogs and supporting others.


  • Bryant Tractors 1983 Ltd Most Promising Entrant Award – Jessica McLeish
  • Northland Field Days Farming Knowledge Award, Building & Fire Services (2008) Ltd Community and Industry Involvement Award, DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Daniel Waterhouse
  • 2019 Northland DIA Communication and Engagement Award – Tipene Hape