A young local farmer with a love of rural New Zealand is helping to launch DairyNZ’s latest campaign, which aims to give Kiwis a better understanding of what it means to be a dairy farmer and attract more people to dairy.
The ‘Join Us’ campaign is fronted by East Coast dairy farmer Shannon Munro, who has been dairy farming for about 10 years.
With her husband, Steve, and three children, Munro says they opted to move away from urban city life to provide a different upbringing for her young family.
“I grew up in the Northland countryside as a kid and moved to Te Puke when I was 11. I always had fond memories of living in the country when I was growing up, and always planned to return one day,” she says
Steve was a builder, and after the birth of their first son, Benson, she says they agreed that a city lifestyle wasn’t what they wanted for their family.
They moved from Te Puke to Ngakuru, a rural community in Rotorua Lakes, where Steve found a job as a farm assistant. With her son in tow, Shannon helped with calving and rearing the calves.
Over the next decade as their family expanded, they progressed into farm manager and 2IC roles, and then into contract milking, moving around the country as opportunities came up, including farming in Canterbury and the Waikato.
“We are now about 30 minutes from Whakatāne and are in our first year leasing a 66 ha dairy block, which was previously leased by Steve’s parents. We bought their 170 herd as they purchased a dairy farm.”
The land and location of the farm offers plenty of opportunities for Shannon to enjoy two of her favourite hobbies: hunting and fishing.
Shannon says their three kids, aged between 3 and 11, love being on the farm, riding motorbikes and being hands on. They especially enjoy making huts in the bush and staying at the family’s glamping spot next to the creek.
“The kids can enjoy a lot of freedom on the farm. At the same time, they have lots to keep them busy and they’re learning life skills they may not have otherwise learned in the city,” she says.
The family is planning to stay on their farm for the next few years, but ultimately want to own their own small farm.
Shannon says that as a young, Māori woman she is proud to be presenting a different face to dairy farming and to be associated with the campaign to show people what dairy farming has to offer as a career.
“Dairy farming offers really great opportunities and a great lifestyle. There are lots of opportunities for people to progress quickly and it’s very rewarding.”
DairyNZ chief executive Dr Mackle says DairyNZ’s Join us campaign is part of a wider project – Here for the Long Game – aiming to help communities understand what drives dairy farmers, and how they are working to provide a better future for their farms, the land, their families, their communities, and New Zealand.
“Dairy farmers are a core part of the economic, social, and environmental wellbeing of communities throughout New Zealand, and our wider ‘Here For the Long Game’ is a platform for dairy farmers to share with other Kiwis who they are and what they do in a way that’s open and fun,” he says.
“Welcoming and supporting new farming talent is vital to the sector’s long game, so we’re excited to launch a new campaign encouraging young Kiwis to get into the dairy sector,” he adds.
The Join Us campaign looks into daily life on a farm – from working with machinery and technology, to caring for animals and the land.
“It’s about showing young Kiwis that, for those keen to get stuck in, dairying offers a truly rewarding career and lifestyle. By joining us, you’re not only securing your own future, but becoming part of creating a better one for all New Zealanders.”