14 Jun 2019

'Living the best life' - RNZ's new video series on young farmers

9:05 pm on 14 June 2019

Tangaroa Walker reckons he is living the best life.

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Photo: RNZ/Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

The Southland contract milker, originally from Tauranga, was the inaugural winner of the Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award in 2012.

As well as diligently working his way up the dairy ladder towards farm ownership, Tangaroa owns a local gym, is a keen rugby player and manages an educational Facebook page.

Tangaroa is one half of a new series by RNZ's Country Life farming programme, following young farmers over a year, showing what they do - their highs and lows.

It's called Grass Roots, a 12-part video-diary series. Every month presents a different challenge, so in May it's drying off the cows and making sure they transition on to winter feed crops.

As a contract milker, Tangaroa employs staff and owns the small machinery used on the farm. The farm owner provides the cows and buildings.

Staffing has proved to be the biggest challenge this season - two employees left at calving time, leaving him in the lurch at the busiest time of the year.

"It really pushed the limits with how I would cope because it was just me, but with the power of social media, I got some ex-sharemilkers to come in and help me out. And that gave me a lot of time to find some good staff."

Milk is Tangaroa's cash cow. There's no rest says Tangaroa, a diver and rugby player who is up at 4am every day to put the cups on his herd.

You can follow Tangaroa on his Facebook page or keep in touch through RNZ Country Life's page.

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Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

At Omarama Station in Otago, Sophie Barnes is mustering merinos and crutching lambs.

Originally from the UK, Sophie reckons she "has been fleeced". Her love affair with sheep began nine years ago and has led the 27-year-old to New Zealand and now she's a roving shepherd with her New Zealand boyfriend and their six dogs.

"My partner Dorrien and I are on an epic South Island shepherding road trip, learning as much as we can along the way."

You can also follow Sophie's story on Instagram and on twitter

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