Otago Daily Times: 15 June 2022

Agriculture trip a ‘whirlwind’ of inspiration

Sam Vivian-Greer admits he is not usually the most emotional person.

But during this month’s mentoring trip around New Zealand for winners of the Zanda McDonald agribusiness award, the Wairarapa man acknowledged he was a little emotional, particularly as he wrote down each day’s experiences in a notebook.

The award, now in its eighth year, supports talented and passionate young professionals in the agricultural sector from Australia and New Zealand.

Part of the prize package includes a trip to high-performing farms and businesses in Australia and New Zealand, travelling by a chartered Pilatus PC-12 aircraft.

Mr Vivian-Greer is rural project manager at Te Tumu Paeroa, which administers 88,000ha of Maori-owned land which occupies 15 regional councils and across multiple land uses, including grazing, dairy, forestry and horticulture.

His role comprises supervising the operational entities that are administered, engaging with various primary industry bodies and assisting the wider organisation with any rural matters arising.

During a visit to former Zanda McDonald award winner Morgan Easton’s home on a dairy farm on the lower Waitaki Plains, Mr Vivian-Greer said the trip “almost unlocks you a bit” – there were big, heavy conversations with leaders in the sector.

And it had been a somewhat surreal experience, meeting people normally seen on television, or in an article or who were “a very powerful name on a piece of paper”.

They shared their stories, talking not only about their professional journeys but also opening up on their personal lives.

One of the main discoveries had been that family and values were “key in everything” while culture was also “massive”.

Many of the people they had met were leaders, whether they sought to be or not, “because they are just grunty humans – very, very good and very, very capable and they’ve risen to the top”, he said.

Being able to “unpack” his experiences with the others on the mentoring trip – 2022 New Zealand winner Rhys Roberts, of Mid Canterbury, and 2021 Australian winner Rozzie McKenna, along with tour leader Matt Wyeth – had also added “a whole new layer”.