Tangaroa Walker, who runs a successful 500-cow dairy farm in Southland, is using his own experience to teach others about working in the farming industry.
Walker founded Farm 4 Life, a digital content hub and training resource for those new to the industry, teaching people everything from how to operate and maintain farm vehicles to how to set up a fence.
“I started Farm4Life because I thought it was such a beautiful industry to be in and it was a good place for a lot of Māori to come out and like myself, not be able to read or write, but obviously use our hands to do mahi.”
As a child, Walker was adopted twice and went to six different schools by the time he was six. To share his story, he released a new book this month Farm for Life: Mahi, mana and life on the land about how farming helped him realise his own dreams.
“A lady called Claire from Penguin just approached me and asked if I’d be interested to write a book and I was like ‘I don’t know how to read and write very well aye and I’ve never read a book in my life so I don’t know where to start but okay’. So they appointed me a ghostwriter and we just got into it and now here it is.”
Walker’s Farm 4 Life Facebook page has amassed more than 150,000 followers from Aotearoa and around the world.
“My dream for Farm 4 Life is to enable every school kid who has been told that they don’t have a chance and they’re in the ‘cabbage class’ like I was, to weaponise them with a mentor in their pocket through all of the industry experts that I’ve met over the last 20 years being a farmer,” he says.
Walker has also recently rolled out Hub Scholarship to support school students.
“HubScholarship enables anyone in New Zealand to buy a scholarship for any school in New Zealand. So we’ve got 6500 schools in New Zealand. So for example, I might be in Southland but I can buy three scholarships for a school up in Whakamarama.”
His book tour is next scheduled to visit Pukekohe, Hamilton, Te Awamutu, Morrinsville, Te Puke and Edgecumbe.