Jackie Harrigan

Nick Besinga once sat with his family on the roof of his flooded house for two days while typhoon waters raged through his district, costing the lives of many friends when the storm struck his island of Mindanao in the Philippines.

Now the 25-year-old has managed to earn and save enough money from his job as a Kiwi dairy assistant to join with his brother in buying their parents a new house.

The Bulls man won the Manawatu DIA dairy trainee award after three years in the country, while learning to speak English and finding his way around the farming system on a Wanganui farm and then the 1250-cow Regents Park farm belonging to the OB Group where he has now moved into an assistant farm manager’s role.

Despite arriving armed with an agribusiness degree and a six-month intensive dairy course upskilling in the ways of Kiwi dairy farms, Nick says the first six months was challenging but the flat management structure and team atmosphere at Regents Park has helped him to thrive.

“Being away from family and friends and being tired day and night in spring time was hard.”

But he credits the big team of six at Regents Park who are more like friends and the friendliness and encouragement of boss James Webb and the five-and-two roster for helping him to settle in and enjoy the role.

“Dairy farming is my passion so I am very blessed to be here.”

Nick is finishing his Primary ITO Level 3 and enjoying being part of a management level course with 30 team members from local Landcorp, Hopkins Group and other OB Group properties.

Getting into management is his goal, followed by time on a smaller farm as a sharemilker.

Renewing his visa has been problematical the past two times but he appreciates the help from his boss working with the immigration department and his recent promotion to assistant farm manager should make it easier in the future.

He credits his passion for farming to his father, who has a business in the farming industry in the Philippines importing and exporting fertiliser.

“I knew I wanted to be a farmer but I hadn’t actually milked a cow.”

He loves seeing the cows moving from paddock to paddock and eating their fill – and he enjoys the good-natured banter and joking going on in the workplace.

The weather has taken a bit of getting used to – he says in the Philippines there are only two temperatures – hot and hotter.

Nick lives in a house on the farm and recently had the opportunity to look around the North Island on a road trip with his brother visiting from home. He keeps in touch with the rest of his family through Facebook and enjoys mountain biking and playing basketball when he has time off.

He won the community and industry involvement award for his input to the Wanganui River City Filipino club where he is secretary and helps to co-ordinate events like the recent Festival of Cultures for the members, who are mainly nurses, dairy farmers and beekeepers.

He is also a member of the Fitzherbert Young Farmers club.


Totally Vets Ltd Most Promising Entrant Award – Molly Milne

Levno Farming Knowledge Award, I.S Dam Lining Ltd Communication and Engagement Award – Dominic Semmen

School of Agriculture and Environment and the School of Veterinary Sciences Community and Industry Involvement Award, DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Nick Besinga