Living the Dream

The women involved in the Silver Fern Farms co-operative are intelligent and dedicated with a diverse range of skills. They are helping change the face of New Zealand farming through innovation, resilience and hard work - they also have a story to tell.

Lucy Annan - Lindis Peaks Station, Tarras

Lucy Annan

Ending up back here has been a wonderful full circle for me.

A courageous decision by Lucy Annan's mother, Barbara, saw her remain on Lindis Peaks Station when she might have walked away. The family's history there dates back to 1910, when Annan's great-great-uncle Nelson Young moved onto the land. Her parents, John and Barbara, took over in 1975.

When John died suddenly in 1990, Barbara stayed on the station, though she'd had little involvement in farm work until then. This saw Annan grow up determined to make her own mark. After studying Occupational Therapy, she met her future husband, rugby player Simon Maling, and the pair travelled, including a three-year spell in Japan. Returning in 2010, they spent a summer at the station. City boy Maling fell in love with farming — and Annan was delighted to be home.

She now focuses on the business management side of things at the 3759ha property — a sheep and beef supplier to Silver Fern Farms. The farm runs 17,000 head of stock, including merino sheep, prime beef and young dairy cows. Annan is also a mum to Thomas, 3, and Arthur, 1.

It is special, Annan says, to continue the family legacy. "Ending up back here has been a wonderful full circle for me."

Rosie Hore - Parawa Station, Northern Southland

Rosie Hore

You get respect from people by just being out there and doing it.

"You have just got to be firm in your convictions about what you want to do," says Rosie Hore, the owner and manager of Parawa Station in Northern Southland and mum to 21-month-old Georgia. Hore grew up on her parents' property and has always been hands-on in farming, whether it is in Southland, the North Island or in Canada. A loyal Silver Fern Farms supplier, she has a diploma in farm management from Lincoln University and oversees a 2000-hectare property with 8000 sheep and 450 cattle.

Hore says, "the buck stops with me. I am just one of the guys. I know my limitations. I know there are things that I can't lift and I am not scared to get a hand. You get respect from people by just being out there and doing it."

Innovation is a big part of Hore's focus. "We try to be ahead of the game. We try to do things a week or two ahead of everyone else."

Jayne Rive - Cloudy Peak Station, Tarras

Jane Rives

Determination shines from the startlingly blue eyes of Jayne Rive. Rive, the kind and fiercely intelligent owner and manager of Cloudy Peak Station, grew up on the remote Halfway Bay Station, on Lake Wakatipu.

Rive travelled to Australia, crutching sheep for a couple of years before completing qualifications in wool and fibre marketing and wool-classing.

She then became a stud manager. Aged 30, Rive started building a merino stud near Tarras.

I was really into sheep breeding, so we selected 200 ewes and started breeding the stud up from there.

Rive's parents asked her to manage Cloudy Peak—which runs 3300 merino and supplies to Silver Fern Farms —three years ago. She and partner George part-own the next-door property, too. Rive says she has never had to fight for respect in the industry. 'Because I started from the bottom and worked my way up, and having never been involved in a family business, until now, it's just evolution. People respect you if you get amongst it'

Lorraine and Alison Duncan - Penvose Farms, Wedderburn

Alison and lorraine

'The men are quite chuffed. They say it is their idea now.' Alison Duncan is mostly joking, but she and daughter-in-law Lorraine can be justifiably proud of the contribution they have made to not only their families' lives, but to that of their community.

The pair — alongside their husbands and, in Lorraine's case, three children — live at Penvose Farms near Wedderbum, a property that has supplied Silver Fern Farms fora number of years. The Duncans have been on the 2000ha property since 1894 and now farm sheep, deer and beef cattle, including an Angus stud. Alison and her husband have farmed there for 51 years — no mean feat as the land is very dry with hill blocks on part of the property.

But, the feather in the cap for Lorraine and Alison has been Wedderbum Cottages, their guest lodging that is the largest of its kind on the busy Otago Central Rail Trail. The rail trail officially opened in 2000 and atthat stage the Duncan had an old farmhouse arid the seed of an idea 'We had friends coming through saying they were doing the rail trail and we had this old house that had holes in the walls,' Alison recalls. It was very run down. But we did think: 'If this rail trail kicks off, this accommodation idea could work' 

It was us ladies who decided we should do something.

"It was us ladies who decided we should do something. Together we decided it would be a great business. We asked a lot of people who came through whether they would stay there."

And so the pair pushed on. The cottages were built in Christchurch and trucked to the farm; together with the main lodge, they can sleep 60 people each night and host more than 5000 people a year.

Tracy Paterson - Matakanui Station, Omakau

Tracey Paterson

Growing up on Waiheke Island, in the Hauraki Gulf, Tracy Paterson’s only experience with farm life was with “two or three sheep and my horse”.

Now, after working all over the world in advertising, recruitment and law – and with three university degrees under her belt – Paterson is helping her husband, Andrew, run the 17,000-sheep Matakanui Station, a supplier to Silver Fern Farms.

“It was a learning curve,” Paterson says. “But I love learning. I also get out and help in the yards.” The couple have three children (Niamh, 13, James, 11, and Ciara, 8) and took over the farm when Andrew’s parents retired to Wanaka.

I love it. It is really busy and every day there is something new.

Paterson is also an accomplished cook, having taken part in MasterChef New Zealand. She learned much of what she knows from her late mother-in-law Hilary. “She and I worked very, very well together in the kitchen,” she remembers.