SUNDAY, JUNE 28, 2015
Motivated student on pathway to dairy success
Seamus Murnane (19) first realised he had a passion for farming when he worked at a friend’s farm north of Whangarei
four years ago. Since then he has been determined to forge a career in agriculture.
The first opportunity arose when, through a Primary Industries Gateway course at his school Pompallier Catholic College
in Whangarei, Seamus could spend time learning on a farm as part of his school curriculum. He enjoyed it so much he was
back working in the holidays.
Seamus was up at 5am and spent long hours happily doing farm duties. His favourite task was looking after the 180
Holstein Friesians, helping to milk them twice a day, feeding them, learning about their behaviour and talking the
‘language of farming’.
“I could never see myself in an office, but I loved getting up early and working outdoors,” Seamus says. “Gateway was a
great experience and gave me the hands-on start I needed.”
The farm experience helped Seamus earn his NCEA Level 2 credits in 2012 and he left college after that year determined
still to make farming his livelihood. A family friend told him Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre in the Wairarapa
was a good place to learn and offered the practical side of learning.
Seamus enrolled for a Taratahi Certificate in Agriculture, Level 3 Dairy in 2013 and is now on course to complete his
National Certificate in Agriculture, Level 4 Dairy in July this year. He also already has a fulltime position at Rotopai
Farms, about 45 minutes towards the coast from Masterton.
The job is not for the faint hearted. Seamus started the role just as calving was in season. Rotopai operates a herd of
2,500 cows. “It was busy, hectic but enjoyable. I have already learned a lot,” says Seamus.
Working at Rotopai means that Seamus is fast learning that farming has to be profitable to survive and, to do that, cows
must be looked after and respected and sustainability is key.
Seamus’ commitment to his career and hard work was this year recognised by a Dairy NZ Award. “I’m chuffed,” says Seamus,
“it’s an acknowledgement of my pathway so far.”
Susan Stokes, DairyNZ Industry Education Facilitator said of the award given to Seamus: “The DairyNZ Vocational Training
Excellence Award provides support and industry recognition for talented dairy trainees like Seamus. The aim of this
award is to encourage them to not only complete their courses and gain qualifications but to also excel, and to inspire
them to go as far as they can in our industry.”
Arthur Graves, the Ministry of Education’s Group Manager for Youth Guarantee also said of the DairyNZ Award: “This sort
of support from industry for education and training will ensure that school leavers are highly skilled and ‘work
In 10 years’ time Seamus sees himself in farm management, share milking or even owning his own small farm.