Raewyn Hills has always been surrounded by farm animals. After going along to a relations dairy farm at at age 8 and working with calves for Lamb & Calf day throughout her primary school years, a passion for dairy farming was discovered at a young age. She went on to spend her secondary school years relief milking at weekends before heading to Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre to complete Level 4 Dairy in 2004.
Raewyn then spent the next three and a half seasons on the Taylor’s Dairy farm near Sanson, during which time she completed a Diploma in Agri Business Management with AgITO. In 2008 she moved with fiancée Michael to Burnside Farms to manage for Michaels uncle who was in the process of stepping back from the farm. The couple married later that year, and have since had 3 children Lucy (7), Mitchell (5) & Claire (2).
Prior to having kids Raewyn spent a lot of time heavily involved with Marton Young Farmers and various Young Farmer Contest Committee’s. This time was soon reallocated to focusing on the Dairy Industry Awards. In 2012 the couple entered Farm Manager of the year for the first time, achieving runner-up with merits in Farm Management, Aims & Attitude. An experience that allowed them to focus on their roles, define their purpose and refine management processes.
"Re-entering in 2013 allowed us to review and refine the business we potentially were buying into, and we went on to win the Manawatu-Rangitikei- Horowhenua Farm Manager of the Year with merits in Financial Management & Human Resources. At Nationals we were fortunate enough to be Runner-up NZ Farm Manager of the Year with merit in Dairy Hygiene."
During their time managing Burnside Farms they had the opportunity to continue building stock numbers, which Raewyn had started to accumulate prior to returning to Burnside. This later helped provide equity when the brought into the Equity Partnership of Burnside Farms in 2013.
"We brought into Burnside Farms Ltd and became 35% equity partners. Due to lease opportunities 2014 saw us expand from 680 cows to 850, and an also expanded Bull beef unit. Currently 300ha Dairy and 300ha young stock, bull Beef & supplement. We run milkings through two cowsheds with six of us full-time within Burnside, plus relief milker’s."
Highly involved in the New Zealand Dairy Industy Awards, Raewyn has spent 3 years on the Manawatu Dairy Industry Awards Committee, and 2 years being the Manawatu Dairy Trainee Team Leader, as well as a year sorting sponsorship. Last year saw the couple competing again, this time becoming runner-up in the Manawatu Share Farmer of the year. They have found that being involved with any aspect of the Dairy Industry Awards such a rewarding experience. Not only the awards themselves but through others they have met via entering or working alongside at committee level, or opportunities which have arisen for their business with rural professionals and sponsors involved. In 2019 Raewyn will step up again to become the Regional Manager for Manawatu Dairy Industry Awards.
Raewyn also gives her time to ensuring the future of dairy is bright. Since 2012 she has been the Secretary/Treasurer for the Manawatu Oroua Boys and Girls Agricultural Club. Working alongside 23 schools assisting with Lamb and Calf days in schools, providing them with rearing and information days, judges, certificates, school vegetable gardens and facilitate the Inter-school Championship Day, all from which points go towards the Craig Cup Competition.
"This provides a great sense of satisfaction watching young being exposed to farm life through taking responsibility in rearing their own pet as this is where my own interest and career grew from."
Using her experience and knowledge to help others is another way that Raewyn gives back to a sector she loves. She completed an AWDT First Steps course in 2016 and was recently approached by Business Mentors NZ, Raewyn has found herself doing more mentoring of recent times and also regularly help out at Primary ITO study nights.
"Life is busy, but lived to it’s fullest and working as team with Michael it’s amazing what we fit in!"