Preparing for 2018 dairy awards


The time to start planning for the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Awards is now, say Carlos and Bernice Delos Santos of Rotorua, who were runners-up in the 2017 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year Award.

Entries for next year’s awards open in October and Carlos and Bernice say gathering information and records takes time so the earlier potential entrants begin preparations, the better, and they should be starting now.

“Because we entered several times in the Share Farmer of the Year competition, we can differentiate the amount of preparation we did from when we didn’t make it, to when we became finalist to third place and then becoming the regional winner,” explains Bernice.  “When we won the regional title this year, the planning started soon after the previous award dinner. We said to ourselves ‘we want to win next year’, so subconsciously, everything we were doing was leading up to the presentation for the next year’s awards.”

National sponsors

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards encompass the Share Farmer of the Year, Dairy Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions and are supported by national sponsors Westpac, DairyNZ, DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra Farm Source, Honda Motorcycles, LIC, Meridian Energy and Ravensdown, along with industry partner Primary ITO.

Carlos arrived in New Zealand in 2001 with Bernice immigrating in 2007. Gaining employment within the dairy industry was difficult in the beginning. Perseverance paid off however, and the couple have worked their way through the industry, with Carlos a joint winner of the 2007 East Waikato Dairy Trainee of the Year. The couple are now 50/50 sharemilkers and won the 2017 Central Plateau Share Farmer of the Year, also collecting four merit awards and going on to be named the 2017 Runners-up New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year in May, as well as winning the Ecolab Dairy Hygiene Award.

They believe the awards and recognition helped them to be more confident. “Having those titles certainly makes a difference on our CV,” say the couple.  “Entering the competition also made us review and scrutinise our management system and make necessary changes to make sure we do the best practice in all aspect of our business.”

Extremely positive

The Delos Santos New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards journey has been extremely positive. “We wanted to get our name out there for future employment possibilities and to get our story out there,” explains Carlos. “We were overwhelmed by the amount of publicity that this competition brings.”

Carlos and Bernice believe they are living proof the dairy industry provides opportunities for everyone if they work hard, as that is what they have done over the years. “When you start with nothing, it’s always hard and difficult but when you get the ball rolling, it somehow gets easier,” says Bernice.  “It still requires hard work and sacrifices but with the experiences we encounter, we learn different things and different ways to cope with difficulties.”

The Delos Santos’ don’t believe there is any special secret to their success. They have continually analysed the bigger picture and learnt not to worry about the small stuff. “All we’ve done over the years is to try and improve, whether that’s from farm management, financial management, people management and so forth.

“We have met a lot of people from entering the awards, from previous winners to the finalists and winners this year, as well as other contacts within the dairy industry that we wouldn’t have been able to do if we hadn’t entered the competition.”

Gain qualifications

The couple have some simple but sound advice for those just starting out in the industry: “Learn as much as you can, gain those qualifications, look after your reputation and save as much as you can.

“Without a doubt, winning the regional competition, as well as runner-up in the national competition, is something I am most proud of,” says Carlos.  “I used to just dream of winning the regional title when I was still a worker, wondering how long it would take me to get there. It seemed like forever waiting for this moment but now I can tick it off as one of my accomplishments.”

Entries for the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards open in October. More information can be found at


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