Growing up on a third generation dairy farm near Eketahuna, at the foot of the Tararua Ranges, was a sound springboard for Kelly Spring's future career. Hosing down the yard without wasting water, spending Christmas Eve looking for Rudolph among the stars while her Dad finished the hay, hunting out newborn calves in the wet and rustling crop, and trying to explain where milk comes from to my townie friends.
At university Kelly studied journalism and landed a job as rural reporter at Radio New Zealand in Wellington. It was here she learnt the value of storytelling. She listened and reported the stories from across the best sector in New Zealand – the seesawing milk price payout, tit-for- tat export market games, number-8 wire innovations, the devastating kiwifruit disease PSA, farmer-led conservation, and waterways, waterways waterways! "We are all
professionals, but in a sector like ours, it’s impossible to talk about our work without talking about our lives."
Kelly's Mum, Dad and brother Steve manage the farm in Eketahuna. About five years ago, Steve felled a tree and tried to remove a branch stuck in the mud, which dislodged another that sprung up – smashing his eye socket, cheek and jaw bones. While he recovered in hospital, Kelly left her reporting job to help at home on the farm. "It was a shock – the physical exhaustion, the early mornings and late evenings, the bloody weather. In exchange there was fresher air, beautiful creatures, the expert lay of the land, and a knowledgeable boss and team."
Kelly spent a few years overseas, on her return she began work as a Senior Communications Advisor with OSPRI in Wellington, where she does her best to ensure New Zealand maintains its excellent global reputation for producing top-quality primary produce. OSPRI is a primary sector service provider with expertise in animal health, traceability, and biosecurity; its flagship programmes are TBfree and NAIT. "As a journalist I always felt outside of the primary sector looking in, now I’m amongst it. But when I go home to the farm and do the odd milking, I see that I could be further amongst it. That’s a decision for another day."
Its great that you are able to keep your Primary Industry links and in a crucial field for all of us. We all know how important our global reputation and perception is on our industry, and we are lucky to have you as our voice.