Twenty-year-old Kristy Maria Roa, Ngāti Maniapoto and Ngāti Apakura, is the winner of the 2019 Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award.
“It was fully unknown, not coming from a farming background as well as coming into this industry that I don't know, but also into that male-dominated environment. But, I knew that's what I wanted to do, so I jumped in, took a leap of faith and it's paid off for me. So, everyone here has been really awesome, so it's been really enjoyable," says Roa.
Roa is a graduate of a two-year course administered by the Waipaoa Cadet Training Trust on the East Coast, which helped her get a boot inside the gate.
"About three years ago, I was looking for something to do outside of school and heard about the Waipaoa open day, drove through the gate and thought 'yep, this is me'. So, it kind of happened quite quickly for me, but it's always come from that passion for jobs and the people," she says.
The programme gave her a solid platform to stand on, from basic farming skills to management.
“Those practical jobs like fencing and shearing, also breaking in a wiener pup eight weeks old right the way through that year. And then the second year, it's all the mustering and also doing a bit of fee budgeting. So, we get the whole lot, from basic jobs all the way through to management of the farm.”
Roa works as a shepherd on Iwinui and Titirangi Stations (Hauiti Corporation) near Tolaga Bay, a 2,100-hectare property. She says love for the job makes the hard yards come easy.
“It's pretty cool getting home at the end of the day knowing that you've achieved something. I think there's a lot of people out there who kind of get home and think 'oh, tomorrow got to go back and do it all again,' but with farming there's just so much variety and I absolutely love it,” says Roa.
The station runs 5,300 ewes, 3,700 ewe lambs, 450 cows and 1,000 trading bulls. While she enjoys being outdoors, it's the business aspect of farming that is a natural attraction.
“I absolutely love business, again it comes from being brought up in a family business, always having open discussions around the dinner table about what's going on, so that's just naturally come through with the farming as well,” she says.
Roa manages a large-scale sheep and beef farm and, ultimately, plans to own her own farm.