Breaking the mould wins

Rhys Roberts’ entrepreneurial approach to primary production has won him the 2022 New Zealand Zanda McDonald Award.

In Solutions3 Minutes
Rhys Roberts, 2022 Zanda NZ award winner.

RHYS ROBERTS’ entrepreneurial approach to primary production has won him the 2022 New Zealand Zanda McDonald Award.

The Zanda McDonald Award, now in its eighth year, supports talented and passionate young professionals in the ag sector from Australia and New Zealand.

He is group chief executive of the Mid-Canterbury Align which operates seven farms, and a market garden, which are vertically integrated with a yoghurt brand and milk processing facility.

Roberts will receive a trans-Tasman prize package centred on mentoring, education and training tailored to his needs.

Charlie Perry, who lives and works on his family owned and operated wagyu beef farm at Gurya, in Northern New South Wales took out the 2022 Australian Zanda McDonald Award.

His focus on building a future workplace has resulted in creating a market garden that feeds his team through the fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry and eggs from their farms. All of the team are on fully flexible rosters, and can manage their own schedules, choosing shifts that suit them. This frees them up of about 1000 hours combined per year, which they reinvest into the community.

Award patron Shane McManaway says Rhys is highly ambitious, and he’s prepared to break the mould of the past and do things differently.

Some of the results he’s seeing, due to his innovative approach, are nothing short of exceptional.

The award interviews and presentation were originally going to be held in Martinborough, but this changed to an online format as a result of the sudden Covid alert level change to red.

Roberts will receive a professional development package that includes an all-expenses paid trans-Tasman mentoring trip to high-performing farms and businesses in Australia and NZ, $10,000 towards further education, and networking opportunities.

The award would normally crown one winner from across Australasia, but in response to Covid-19 related travel restrictions, an Australian and a NZ winner will be crowned this year.

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