Jackie Harrigan

Matt McDougall describes himself as an active relaxer – he’s happiest when he’s busy and productive.

The 22-year-old winner of the Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa dairy trainee award spent a week planning his campaign to win, having placed second in the past, and will shortly update his campaign strategy to take on the nationals. The worksheets on the wall of his lounge cover goals and actions to be ticked off, longer-term aspirations to share with judges, questions to practice answers to – all centred with his old school motto that has become his mantra for life “Nihil boni sine labore” – “nothing achieved without hard work”.

After Palmerston North Boys High School Matt did a gap year in the United Kingdom with Latitude, tutoring for a year at Gordon School in Surrey, then toured Europe for the summer – where he found out he didn’t really like cities.

Hightailing it back to the Manawatu, Dannevirke-born Matt landed a job with Andrew Hoggard at Kiwitea, where he says his career took off, getting to assistant herd manager and developing a passion for health and safety.

“It was great to see Andrew’s role in the farming industry and to learn to be the best you could in every role and keep a paper trail and use good communication.”

In June 2017 a 2IC opportunity came up with Andrew Hardie and Helen Long on their 700-cow Matamau OAD farm where Matt says he learned good time management.

“I learned that five minutes missed in the morning could mean an hour extra work in the afternoon – especially when it’s around irrigation, everything gets pushed back. It’s so important to get stuff done in a timely manner rather than fluffing around.”

After six months Matt learned another very important health and safety lesson when he rolled the quadbike and split his knee to the bone – and also split the quadbike helmet in two.

“I was still wearing the helmet but it saved my head – I learned that you can be the best quadbike rider but it can still catch you out – so wearing the safety gear is so important.”

Dairy Industry Awards introduced him to Tom and Jen Read, 2018 Hawke’s Bay/ Wairarapa Share Farmer winners and they offered him an opportunity on their new sharemilking job up near the Ruahine Ranges west of Dannevirke.

After a season on the 530-cow twice-a-day milking farm producing 182,000kg milksolids (MS), Matt is moving up to manager next season when Barnabus Harrison moves to a contract milking position. Matt is looking forward to the challenge on the undulating farm.

He’s in a good spot – close enough to Dannevirke for Tuesday night rugby training with the Dannevirke Sports Club senior B side, followed by fire brigade training 20 minutes later, then more fire training on a Thursday night, Young Farmers social meeting every second Friday night, reffing junior rugby on a Saturday morning followed by playing club rugby in the afternoon and the obligatory roast at mum’s house on a Sunday.

There is also the monthly Young Farmers club meeting, where chairman Matt is working with his committee on fundraising for and running Good Yarn mental health awareness social functions to look out for the wellbeing of their members.

Matt has also taken on the vice-chairmanship of the East Coast region and the position of delegate for East Coast on the national committee. Travelling to Nat Com meetings in the South Island will also allow him to sneak in a little of his other passions – hunting. He usually hunts with mates out at Pongaroa and has a fallow head at the taxidermist being prepared for the lounge wall.

Did I mention the Primary ITO training? Matt has ticked off Level three and now looking towards Level four.

“I am only home two evenings a week – it’s good to be busy!”


Irrigation Services Most Promising Entrant – Charlotte Oram

TFM Tractors Farming Knowledge Award, T.H. Enterprises Ltd Communication and Engagement Award, Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa DIA Community; Industry Involvement Award, DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Matthew McDougall