Home' Greymouth Star : March 30th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
atie Milne is a straight
imagine those attending a
meeting on the West Coast,
in the early 1990s, took
notice when she went along with some
concerns about the Resource Management
Act ’s impact on her ability to farm.
There were a large number of Federated
Farmers people there, but they were “all
older fellas with grey hair’’.
“I think they were pretty shocked to
see a young 23-year-old bird there. I did
ask a couple of questions as well. I think
that was that ... the die was a bit cast,’’ she
Soon after, Ms Milne became involved in
Federated Farmers and, since then, she has
moved through the ranks of the farmer
Following her success in the Dairy
Woman of the Year, Westland Milk
Products chairman Matt O’Regan said
the award was fitting recognition for her
“passionate dedication’’ to dairying on the
West Coast and, through her work with
Federated Farmers, as a national advocate
for the industry.
“S he has a practical but compelling
approach that commands attention, and
she has made a significant contribution
to ensuring that farming has a sustainable
future in New Zealand,’’ he said.
Federated Farmers national president Dr
William Rolleston said Ms Milne’s can do
attitude and ability to break down barriers
by communicating at all levels made her
“ incredibly influential in the agri-political
“S he is a practical, no nonsense farmer
with a bright outlook on life and this
resonates through her advocacy with the
federation,’’ he said.
Citing the calibre of the other finalists
— Andrea Murphy (Alexandra), Elaine
Cook (Waikato) and Wilma van Leeuwen
(Waimate), Ms Milne had convinced
herself she was not going to be the winner.
So when the announcement was made,
she was “quite surprised and shocked’’, but
also “hrilled to bits and very humbled’’.
Her credentials — and workload —
were impressive, yet she shrugged off
any suggestion of a super woman label,
instead citing how fortunate she was to be
surrounded by good people.
She was now in her third year as a
national board member of Federated
Farmers — only the second woman on the
board — and sits on the National Animal
Welfare Advisory Committee, advising the
Minister for Primary Industries.
She is on the Farmers Mental
Wellness Strategy Group, partnering
with stakeholders on improving farmer
wellbeing, and is Federated Farmers
adverse events spokesperson. She is also
in her sixth year as the federation’s West
Coast provincial president.
She is West Coast chairwoman of Tb
Free and and previously a member of the
West Coast Focus Farm advisory board.
She has also been a management group
chairwoman for Sustainable Farming in
the Lake Brunner Catchment Project,
which works with local authorities, the
Department of Conser vation and the
community to help manage, protect and
improve the lake’s water quality.
To top it off, Ms Milne has been a
member of the local volunteer fire brigade
for the past 15 years.
Ms Milne and her partner Ian
Whitmore run 200 jersey cows on a 125ha
farm which has been in the Whitmore
family for more than 90 years. They supply
to Westland Milk Products.
They also do some local contracting,
making baleage, pit silage, and effluent
spreading via slurry tanker
and muck spreader.
Ms Milne’s heritage was
in sheep and beef and she
still had relatives farming
in South Westland.
School holidays were
spent down there ‘running
around on the farm’, and
anything to do with the
outdoors and nature was
where she wanted to be.
Her mother was the
farmer in their family,
while her father was an
her mother on the farm
after school was a regular
pastime and it gave her
a good grounding in
Back in the day when
Ms Milne was a meat
inspector in the local
freezing works, little did
she realise how useful
those skills would be later
“Standing there at
the gut tray, inspecting
lymph nodes, I certainly
didn’t see down the track
that would be a useful
experience,’’ she said.
Rather, at the time, it
seemed a way of getting
rid of the mortgage
between milkings, she
The couple had gone
drought hit in 1988 and
she recalled it being a
“It didn’t defeat us but it
nearly did,’’ she recalled.
They decided they
needed to do a stocktake,
have a look around
somewhere else and make
a call as to whether they
wanted to continue in the
So they lived in Alberta,
Canada, for two years,
before deciding to return
home and get back into
They looked at various
options and bought Mr
Whitmore’s parents’ farm,
as they were looking to
It was around that time the Resource
Management Act came into being. With
a river boundary on the property, it got
Ms Milne questioning what it all meant
and that led her to the meeting which
inadvertently sparked her involvement in
If a farmer did not put their hand up and
stick up for farmers, then well meaning
people in regulation and legislation
would ‘put something on you’, without
consultation, and that was too big a risk
for farming businesses, she said.
‘’You can’t let someone who knows
nothing about land, rivers, animals,
making decisions for us about land and
rivers and animals,’’ she said.
Asked how she managed her workload,
Ms Milne said a full-time staff member,
employed in the past few years, handled
most of the day to day milkings.
But she still reared all the calves, was
involved in management decisions, and
did all the farm’s bookwork.
She tried to organise her time, but that
had got a little harder “as more things have
come along’’. Asked how she coped being
thrust into the media spotlight, given her
role as adverse events spokeswoman, Ms
Milne said it was initially ‘quite ironic’.
One of the first events she had to deal
with was drought and, to be sitting
looking out at green grass at home, getting
asked questions about how tough it was
and what farmers were going through, she
would have preferred to be able to speak
‘exactly from the same position’ — staring
at barren, brown paddocks and praying for
But sometimes, she acknowledged, it was
quite useful to be removed from it, so she
could see it without the same amount of
Whatever she was commenting on, Ms
Milne endeavoured to express it in a way
everyone could grasp, including those who
knew nothing about farming.
For that was a big challenge and one that
she was keen to help address; getting the
“rest of New Zealand understanding us”.
She wanted urban New Zealand to ‘get
it’ — that farmers were doing things that
were good for animals and the land, that
they were stewards of the land and had
good husbandry skills.
A classic example of not understanding
was the ‘chatter’ at the moment over
shelterbelts being removed to make way
for precision irrigation systems, and how
farmers were ‘a bunch of greedy buggers’.
Farmers she had spoken to were
‘absolutely gutted and devastated’ about
having to remove trees they planted 30
years ago, or the previous generation had
planted, and it was a ‘really tough call for
Work was being done on different
types of plantings that could be planted
underneath irrigation and there would be
shelter again, it would just ‘take a bit of
They would not be the ‘tall, tall trees’ that
people were used to, but shorter, native
types and, as far as biodiversity went, that
was ‘going to be really cool’.
“ It ’s going to be different but we’re going
to get there,’’ she said.
Precision irrigation was necessary ‘to do
all the things we need to do’ — have good
outcomes with nutrient management and
be efficient with water.
That was probably an example of why she
ended up putting her hand up for things.
“That ’s were people don’t get what
we’re doing and are making rules and
regulations around us ... making decisions
without fully understanding. ’’
Asked whether she had aspirations to
be the first female national president of
Federated Farmers, Ms Milne said it was
not her intention.
While she would never rule anything out
— “you never know what happens’’ — she
was more an issues person, who was very
for ward thinking in some things, ‘’but not
necessarily personal aspirations’’.
“ Really for me, I’m just bloody on this
train and its going somewhere ... and I’m
enjoying going with it. Wherever it takes
me,’’ she said.
4 - Monday, March 30, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1822 - Florida becomes a US territory.
1842 - Ether is reputedly used as anaesthetic
for first time, by Dr Crawford Long.
1856 - The Treaty of Paris is signed, ending
the Crimean War.
1867 - US Secretary of State William Seward
reaches agreement with Russia to
purchase the territory of Alaska for
$7.2 million, a deal ridiculed in the
US as Seward’s Folly.
1870 - The 15th amendment to
the US Constitution, giving black
men the right to vote, is ratified.
1981 - US President Ronald
Reagan and his press secretary James Brady
are shot and wounded outside the Washington
1986 - Death of actor James Cagney, aged 86.
1998 - Rolls-Royce is purchased by German
2002 - Death at the age of 101 of Britain’s
Queen Mother, widow of King George VI and
mother of Queen Elizabeth II.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Francisco Goya, Spanish artist (1746-1828);
Vincent van Gogh, D utch artist (1853-1890);
Frankie Laine, US singer (1913-2007); Rolf
Harris, Australian entertainer (1930-); Warren
Beatty, US actor (1937-); Eric
Clapton, English guitarist-pop singer
(1945-); Robbie Coltrane, Scottish
actor (1950-); Paul Reiser, US actor
(1957-); MC Hammer, US rapper
(1962-); Tracy Chapman, US singer
(1964-); Ian Ziering, US actor of
Beverly Hills 90210 fame (1964-);
Celine Dion, Canadian singer (1968-); Norah
Jones, American singer-songwriter, (1979-) .
“All mankind is divided into three classes:
those that are immovable, those that are
moveable, and those that move.”
— Arab proverb.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in
Me you might have peace. In the world you
shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I
have overcome the world. ” — ( John 16:33).
A proposition from
Golden Coast Airlines
to take over NAC’s
West Coast ser vice
has been rejected by the corporation, NAC’s
project development manager captain H C
Walker has announced. Captain Walker said
the airline apparently wanted to extend its fleet
and had approached the corporation.
Golden Coast Airlines had suggested using
nine-seater aircraft on the ser vice, but NAC
considered the proposal unsatisfactory. As
project development manager, captain Walker
personally studied the economics of the
proposal. “ I considered they would lose more
on the ser vice than we do on DC3s,” he said.
Currently under contract with the Reefton
Forestry Department is a Nelson helicopter.
It is being used to clear gorse, broom and
blackberry from 200 acres of land where
ner wly-planted trees are situated.
Forest ranger Mr S T Harrison said the
area being sprayed was where trees had been
planted last year. This is the first time that
the Reefton Forestry Department has used a
helicopter to prevent weeds suppressing the
growth of young trees.
Mr Harrison stresssed that while the hire of
the helicopter was about £2 10s an acre, it was
a much cheaper system than doing the work by
Dave McKenzie is rated the No 1 athlete on
the West Coast for the 1964-65 season. At
Saturday night ’s end of the year function of the
Greymouth Amateur Athletic Club, McKenzie
was awarded trophies for being the most
outstanding and promising performer.
McKenzie has run the two fastest marathons
in New Zealand this season.
uFood for thought
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PICTURE: Otago Daily Times
Katie Milne holds aloft her trophy after being announced Dairy Woman of the Year.
A straight shooter
Rotomanu dairy farmer Katie Milne was recently named Dairy Woman of the Year. She
talks to SALLY RAE, of the Otago Daily Times.
It is fitting tribute to the role the Belgian
coalfield around Mons played in Van
Gogh’s emergence as an artist that the city
has made a rare show of his early works
a focus of its year as European Capital of
From the clumsy sketches with which
the 25-year-old D utch lay preacher began
to drawings flowing with the energy that
marked his later painting, Van Gogh in
the Borinage: Birth of an Artist at Beaux
Arts Mons is a treat for the academic
and casually curious alike. It ought, too,
to inspire perseverance in any would-be
creator — even Van Gogh started out with
“I can see it is not any good yet,” Vincent
wrote to his art dealer elder brother Theo
Van Gogh in a letter accompanying two
small pencil drawings showing the weary
lives of the miners of the Borinage
coalfield among whom he lived from 1878
“But,” he added, “It is starting to come.”
Alongside letters scratched out from the
colliers’ cottages where the well-born Van
Gogh lodged, the show traces progression
in technique, in pencil and paint. Largely
early work, it does culminate in the
sumptuous, sunlit Impressionism of Street
in Auvers-sur-Oise, painted in the weeks
before his death aged 37.
Van Gogh drew the pitheads, the simple
homes, the miners’ potato patches, even,
after an underground visit, the coalface
itself. In the grip of the youthful religiosity
that later gave way to suicidal despair, he
wrote: “ Those who work in the shadows, in
the belly of the earth, like the miners deep
in the black coalworkings, are very touched
by the word of the Gospel.”
Also on display are works by others who
inspired him as well as versions he made
of them, notably Jean-Francois Millet ’s
paintings of peasant life such as The Sower
and The Angelus.
From hesitant copyist to inspired original,
the Van Gogh at Mons labours as hard as
those he saw around him in the Borinage.
In a final touch to encourage today ’s
amateur, the last room shows how he
returned in his last months to studying the
human form from a bestselling textbook of
his day. Hung next to the clean Classical
lines of the printed models, Van Gogh’s
figures are no accurate copies. Yet they leap
from the wall with life.
The exhibition in the neat modern BAM
gallery just off Mons’ florid Renaissance
town square, an hour south of Brussels, has
packed in 100,000 visitors since January.
It will open extended hours for its last six
weeks once the city celebrates its year in
the European eye by opening five new
museums on April 3.
Next Sunday, for Easter, entry to the Van
Gogh is free.
There is a wealth of art, architecture and
history to take in around Mons, including
new exhibitions on the city’s place in the
two world wars. But as a complement to
the Van Gogh, contemporary Flemish
master Luc Tuymans’ print show in the
nearby ex-mining town of La Louviere is
Best known for his paintings, often
exploring troubling histories and based on
photographs and other printed images, Luc
Tuymans: Suspended offers 25 years of his
collaboration with printmakers to create
fluid, layered, intriguing effects.
The Temple consists of etchings of
watercolours of Polaroids, of watercolours
of Polaroids, of a tv screen showing a
documentary about Mormons. For all the
lost levels of clarity, they still convey a clear
sense of each image to the human eye.
Van Gogh, battling in the Borinage
to command his pencil and paintbrush
to extract an essence of life, would have
understood. — Reuters
Exhibition a f itting tribute to Vincent Van Gogh
Street in Auvers-sur-Oise, by Vincent Van Gogh.
The Milne file
Katie Milne, 45, Farms at Rotomanu
with partner Ian Whitmore.
Runs 200 jersey cows and has a
Federated Farmers West Coast
provincial president and national
West Coast chairwoman of Tb Free
Daughter Andi works as a technical
sales representative for NZ Far
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