Strong work ethic earns re­ward

Matamata Chronicle - - & About - STEPH BELL-JENKINS

The phone hasn’t stopped ring­ing at Phillip van Heu­ven’s place.

The Ti­rau sharemilker scooped the ma­jor prize at the 2017 Waikato Dairy In­dus­try Awards, win­ning Share Farmer of the Year at Mys­tery Creek on March 10.

The 30-year-old, who 50/50 sharemilks 230 cows for Brett Coubrough in Ti­rau, was ‘‘shocked ini­tially, but so hon­oured’’ to win the cov­eted award, tak­ing home $14,050 in prizes.

‘‘It took a while for it all to sink in,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s such a ma­jor ac­com­plish­ment.’’

Van Heu­ven also won four merit awards: the Eco­lab Farm Dairy Hy­giene Award, Meridian En­ergy Farm En­vi­ron­ment Award, Ravens­down Pas­ture Per­for­mance Award and West­pac Busi­ness Per­for­mance Award.

He and his part­ner Erin Brown have been flooded by phone calls and text mes­sages of sup­port since the win.

‘‘It’s been great and has shown the hard work we’ve put in over the years has paid off,’’ he said.

Van Heu­ven was raised in Mata­mata on a 160-ha farm, where he loved chip­ping in to help his par­ents hose the yard, feed calves and milk cows.

He be­lieves his prac­ti­cal na­ture, love of an­i­mals and the out­doors, strong work ethic, at­ten­tion to de­tail and de­ter­mi­na­tion to suc­ceed have been key to his suc­cess.

His ex­cel­lent sup­port net­work is an­other huge plus.

‘‘I come from a very strong and sup­port­ive farm­ing fam­ily,’’ he said.

‘‘My par­ents, in par­tic­u­lar, have played a cru­cial role in sup­port­ing me, par­tic­u­larly when start­ing sharemilk­ing, as I was able to pur­chase stock and milk them on their farm be­fore go­ing out on my own.

‘‘My part­ner works off farm but helps on the farm as of­ten as she can and is very sup­port­ive. I’m also close to my ex­tended fam­ily, who have been very im­por­tant.’’

Van Heu­ven al­ways wanted to go farm­ing, but com­pleted join­ery qual­i­fi­ca­tions af­ter leav­ing school to help with his agri­cul­tural ca­reer and ex­tend his skills.

Af­ter do­ing his OE, he be­gan farm­ing seven and a half years ago at Tiro­roa farms in Mata­mata. He then moved back to the fam­ily farm be­fore go­ing sharemilk­ing three years ago.

He has a level four New Zealand Cer­tifi­cate in Agri­cul­ture and is cur­rently fin­ish­ing a Diploma in Agribusi­ness man­age­ment from Pri­mary ITO.

He is also in­volved in the MP3 Dairy Push project fo­cus­ing on peo­ple, profit and en­vi­ron­ment, and is a qual­i­fied ar­ti­fi­cial breed­ing tech­ni­cian.

Van Heu­ven said low pay­outs had been the big­gest chal­lenge he had faced over his sharemilk­ing ten­ure.

‘‘That meant I needed to bud­get and think for­ward. I plan for the worst and al­ways do feed bud­get­ing, and have talked fre­quently to my bank man­ager, ac­coun­tant and like-minded farm­ers who are in the same boat.’’

The DairyNZ web­site is one tool that has proved vital in help­ing his busi­ness stay com­pet­i­tive.

Van Heu­ven hopes his win at the Waikato Dairy In­dus­try Awards will help with his goal of ob­tain­ing a big­ger 50/50 sharemilk­ing po­si­tion.

‘‘Hope­fully it will set us up to fur­ther our ca­reer. The prizes from the spon­sors will also re­ally help.’’


Friends have been ring­ing to con­grat­u­late award-win­ning Ti­rau sharemilker Phillip van Heu­ven.

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