Chrissina Donald (Loader) retired from secondary teaching at the end of 2016. After being an HoD, a Specialist Classroom Teacher and educational author, it was time to re-evaluate her future. Wanting to fulfil dreams she and her husband, Bruce, had shared before they were married 21 years ago, she decided the time was right to hand in her keys and join Bruce on their 567 ha sheep and beef farm Mironui Station, in Motea, Dannevirke where they have lived for the past 9 years.
Born and bred in the Wairarapa, Chrissina has always had a love of the land despite being a ‘townie’. Her mother was raised on a farm and always made sure Chrissina and her four brothers visited their grandparents’ farm on a regular basis. Now after farming since marrying Bruce and establishing Ngakouka Herefords stud 17 years ago Chrissina says it’s time they see their dream through to fruition – which was to hold on-farm bull sales. This wasn’t going to happen if Chrissina remained teaching as organising a bull sale is a full time job in itself, and they’ve always intended on working as a team.
Chrissina strengths are in organisation, meeting deadlines, communication and she’s learning about marketing. Even though there’s no bell to structure her day she’s found she can be well disciplined in getting ‘things done’, although she does admit to sometimes drifting down to the yards. She’s all about balance too, and admits she hasn’t fully left education. She has co-facilitated secondary school professional development, she is mentoring, and has ideas of writing another educational resource book about mentoring and relationships. “I’m not quite finished with education just yet, especially with our own girls still in the system. I can’t help myself!”
That said, being able to work from her home office with views of the farm and yards is pure magic. “Every day is like being enveloped in 100% cotton sheets. I love it. It’s bliss.” Working with her husband has also been fun – they have each other sussed. Surviving dirty clean drafts without tantrums from either side must be proof of a good partnership! Like for many farming women a day could involve getting kids off to school, baking for the troops, administration, yard work, chores should there be a trip to town, sports coaching, community volunteer work etc.
The days are never dull and it is all about working as a team and mucking in to get things done. Governance of their farm is also Chrissina’s brief and this will be new territory for her. She is keen to learn as much as possible about sustainability from Bruce and continue their programme of fencing off waterways, plantings, native regeneration, and general beautification of their property. “Farmers are custodians and I feel it’s our responsibility to look after the land kindly and responsively for future generations.”
She and Bruce have three daughters, Molly, 14, Hannah, 12 and Georgina, 9. All three aim to work in primary industries in some capacity in the future. Raising strong, engaging, creative and independent daughters is important for Chrissina. “Teachers are educating our childrenfor jobs that don’t exist yet so enabling them to believe in themselves, be thinkers, to be creative, to collaborate with others both digitally and, more importantly, one to one with
eye contact is essential for their future career pathways. The primary industry is an exciting industry to be part of. I can’t wait to see what our girls do.”
Educations loss is the primary industries gain. We are lucky to have you! All the best for your upcoming Bull Sale!