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Farming a fit for Roa’s passions

FORMER Waipaoa farm cadet Kristy Roa was celebrated last month after receiving the Ahuwhenua Young Maori Farmer Award for 2019, and she was thrilled about the win.

Focus on the Land caught up with her this week.

The 20-year-old, who is of Ngati Maniapoto and Ngati Apakura descent, works as a shepherd on Iwinui Station near Tolaga Bay.

Fellow Tolaga Bay shepherd Tu Harrison-Boyd, of Ngati Porou descent (te whanau a Tuwhakairiora me te whanau a Hinekehu), from Whareopaia Station, was another of the three finalists.

The Ahuwhenua Young Maori Farmer Award was inaugurated in 2012 and is designed to recognise talented up-and-coming young Maori farmers.

“Initially I was quite shocked to be the winner,” Ms Roa said.

“When I entered I wanted to do it for the experience, without imagining it would be much more than that.

“To win it . . . well, I was full of joy and quite emotional.”

Ms Roa said it had been an amazing experience to take part in the competition.

“Afterwards I realised the opportunity I had to go on and be a leader in the Maori farming community.

“I want to inspire other young Maori to follow their dreams, like I have.

Ms Roa grew up in Hamilton, and her parents have no direct connection to farming, although they own an engineering business that builds milk tankers.

She came through the farm cadet course at Waipaoa Station and graduated in 2018.

“Driving there through the farmland to an open day inspired me to make agriculture my career choice.

“Many city kids see farming as a lifestyle, whereas I see the business dimension of farming, which I think is pretty cool.”

Her shepherd job on Iwinui has been her first job since leaving Waipaoa.

“I love what I do. I truly do.

“It combines my three passions of working on the land, working with people to achieve common goals and learning the business of farming.”

Ms Roa enjoys the contrast between city people, who she grew up around, and country people.

“There is quite a difference between town and country people. Farming people have a more open mind, I have found.

“When you have a problem on-farm you have to crack your mind to find a solution and work with what you’ve got.”

She has plans for the future.

“My seven-year plan is to hopefully be managing a large-scale sheep and beef farm somewhere in the Wairoa-Gisborne-East Coast region.

“Through that time I will need to build up a bigger team of dogs and develop my understanding of farming management systems,” Ms Roa said.

“The goal is to manage, and the dream is to own.

“I want to thank my parents, Pam and Les, for allowing me to follow my passion in farming, and the Ahuwhenua committee for giving me this opportunity.”


TOP YOUNG FARMER: Kristy Roa from Iwinui Station near Tolaga Bay has a seven-year plan to manage a sheep and beef farm in this region.
Kristy Roa wins the Ahuwhenua Young Maori Farmer Award.
Kristy Roa came through the Waipaoa Station Farm Cadet training scheme. File pictures