They are spread from Northland to Southland – Dairy NZ regional leader Tafadzwa Manjala from Whangarei, ANZ rural banker Sophie Stanley from Hamilton, rural entrepreneur Lisa Harper from Picton, Meridian Energy national agribusiness manager Natasha King from Christchurch and Northern Southland farmer and retailer Stephen Wilkins from Athol.The research topics they are likely to cover are faster uptake and application of current and new management practices on farm, the use of social media to boost the New Zealand brand, encouraging innovation in rural businesses, using gas and electricity generation to solve effluent and water management issues and looking into synergies between arable and dairy from a nutrient and effluent perspective.
The Nuffield NZ Scholarship offers the opportunity for overseas travel, study of the latest developments in a number of leading agricultural countries, and provides an entrée to leaders and decision makers not accessible to the ordinary traveller.
Successful applicants have the opportunity to develop a better understanding of New Zealand and international relationships through at least four months travel. Scholars participate in a Contemporary Scholars conference with 60 Nuffield Scholars from around the world and a six-week Global Focus Programme with an organised itinerary through several countries with other scholars. Finally they have their own individual study programme with a research report due at the end of their travels.
Historically only two to three annual scholarships have been awarded, but Nuffield New Zealand Director Richard Green says it has been the organisation’s vision to grow the programme.
"We wanted to be able to award five scholarships without dropping our high quality standards and expectations on scholars. An increase in scholarship numbers has only been possible with the extra financial commitment from the partner sponsors, Dairy NZ, B+LNZ, FMG and AGMARDT as well as other supporting sponsors being FAR, Mackenzie Charitable Foundation and Landcorp," he says.
"Nuffield and our sponsors have identified the opportunity and the need for more emerging leaders with the global vision and international connections that can be gained through a Nuffield Scholarship."
The five 2013 Nuffield New Zealand Scholars are:
Hamilton’s Sophie Stanley, 26, has agricultural science and economics degrees from Massey University (2005-2008). She currently works for the ANZ Bank in Morrinsville managing a portfolio of 60 customers, mostly dairy. She completed the Kellogg’s Rural Leadership programme this year with the research project centred around the value of "Brand New Zealand" in our value added primary products in Asian markets. She plans to take this a step further in her Nuffield studies to investigate how New Zealand’s agriculture industry can use social media and technology more effectively to both promote the NZ brand and promote innovation and knowledge transfer between farmers and industry, while at the same time attempting to reduce the rural/urban divide.
Christchurch’s Natasha King, 39, is national agribusiness manager for Meridian Energy and recently finished as chair of Canterbury Netball. She took the journey of share milking through to farm ownership and then stepped out of the gumboots and into the corporate world in the late 1990s.
One of her goals is to move into an equity farm partnership on a large irrigated dairy unit. Natasha is passionate about mentoring and progression within the dairy industry and has a close association with Dairy Industry Awards and AgITO. Her likely research topic is whether generating gas and electricity can solve the effluent and water management issues for New Zealand agriculture. Natasha has two daughters, Victoria and Laura Shaw, who are 18 and 17 respectively, and partner Brett Hare.
Stephen Wilkins, 47, has been farming in a family farming business since 1982 and is based in Athol in Northern Southland. The business includes sheep and beef breeding operations, a deer unit, dairy and dairy support. Stephen’s role focuses on an intensive arable system and the agronomy for the whole business. He has also been setting up a farm shop, run from an historic woolshed on the farm, selling farm grown and local produce and their own meat brand Athol Valley Meats. Stephen’s potential research topic is to look at synergies between arable and dairy from a nutrient and effluent perspective. Stephen and his wife Heather have three daughters – Hannah, Ella and Molly.
Tafadzwa Manjala, 38, from Whangarei, is two thirds of the way through a Masters degree in Agriculture at Massey University, studying extramurally while working as a regional leader for Dairy NZ. He has worked for Dairy NZ since 2004, organises the Green to Gold Group (business-focused discussion group) and until a few months ago was a councillor on the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management. Tafadzwa also has a number of qualifications from his native Zimbabwe. He would like to research how New Zealand can facilitate faster uptake and application of current and new management practices on farm. Tafadzwa and his wife Whitney have two children 10-year-old Rufaro and six-year-old Rosa.
Picton’s Lisa Harper, 37, was the 2011 winner of the Rural Women Enterprising Woman Award and a finalist in the 2009 Cuisine Artisan Food Awards. She has a Masters in Business Management from Massey University (awaiting final results), a PhD in plant pathology from Lincoln University and a science degree from Victoria University. She was diverted from her academic career in 2003 when a family illness saw her return from working in Europe to take over the family farm in Marlborough where she grew up. The family started a business involved in cheese manufacturing and educational tourism – Lisa’s responsibilities include operations management, marketing, sales/customer service and quality control/hazard management. Lisa already has a love of research and through her Nuffield scholarship might look at how to encourage greater levels of innovation in rural businesses and identify some of the road blocks that might be preventing businesses from taking their ideas further.