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Our Mission

Growing Future Farmers (GFF)

Where trainees will learn practical workplace skills on the farm.


Theses skills could include anything from shearing, 4WD training, fencing, chainsaw use, animal health and dog training with an initial orientation course.

Each student will live on-farm, and receive a living allowance as well as meat and vegetable payment.

Each region will have a GFF support manager as well as access to subsided equipment, clothing as well as being provided with a heading and huntaway pup.

Our Kaupapa is simple: training “by farmers, for farmers”.

Strategic priorities include


To provide the opportunity for motivated young people to enter the sheep, beef and deer industry with the confidence of supported training and development


To provide an industry respected, employer led career pathway that will enable motivated young people to progress in their career.


To provide NZQA approved on farm programmes underpinned by proven methods and are future focussed.


To provide liaison support to our geographically isolated learners.


The GFF program is a great way for Wairere to continue its history of giving young people a start in the sheep and beef sector. Aimed more specifically at those who want to get into farming and may not otherwise have such an opportunity. It is very rewarding to see the students progress so quickly.

They benefit hugely from a well-structured program of practical skills training, on-farm experience and studying for a basic qualification. These young people are growing and learning as they go and the GFF support staff have been a great help in ensuring that all involved stay on track.  

Our sector desperately needs more passionate and well trained new entrants. Everyone on the staff is involved with their training and we all benefit from the experience."


Simon Buckley. Business Manager for Wairere Sheep Genetics

Our Board
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Brad Tatere


Iwi Affiliations: Ngāti Kaungunu, Rangitāne, Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Pikiao, Waitaha

Brad was born and raised in the Hawkes Bay and has been involved in the agribusiness sector from an early age.  He now lives in Taupō with his wife Kirsty and his four teenage children, and continues to have involvement in a broad range of agribusinesses.


Brad has a strong commercial background. He is a Partner at Koau Capital Partners, and spent the prior 10 years in agribusiness banking, asset management and governance.  Brad holds a bachelor’s degree in Applied Science from Massey University, is a member of the New Zealand Institute of Directors, an alumni of the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme, and has completed the Fonterra’s Governance Development Programme. 

Annabelle Subtil

Director, Sheep & Beef Farmer, North Otago

Annabelle's family owns and farms a high country sheep and beef property in Omarama.


As an employer and mother of two children, both interested in farming, she has long felt that there is not enough training for young people in agriculture. This is why she has become involved in GFF.


Now is a great time to be getting involved in farming and GFF helps provide those essential skills needed along with NZQA qualifications.

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Tam Jex-Blake

Director, Sheep & Beef Farmer, Gisborne

Tam (with husband Dan) are owners of Mangapoike Ltd, a 23,000 sheep and beef farming business 50km south-west of Gisborne.

In 2016 Tam and Dan were awarded Beef + Lamb Sheep Industry Trainer of the Year and have piloted the GFF Essential Farm Skills Programme at Mangapoike since 2017.

Tam has been involved in education for many years. Due to geographical isolation, her children studied correspondence for four years. Tam then chaired the local school, Te Kura O’Manutuke for nine years and went on to chair Wanganui Collegiate School for nine years moving Collegiate from independence to state-integrated status.

Tam is a current member of the Rabobank Client Council. Tam holds an executive role on the GFF board.

Jo Johnstone

Director, Sheep & Beef Farmer, King Country

Jo grew up on a family sheep and beef farm at Birdling’s Flat, Banks Peninsula. On finishing school, she trained and worked as a Radiation Therapist in NZ, Australia, and the UK. On returning to New Zealand she married a sheep and beef farmer from Te Kuiti, King Country and have two children currently studying at university.


Jo enjoys being involved in the family farming business and took over the HR, environmental and Health and Safety responsibilities.


Jo is passionate about growing young people in the food and fibre sector and was frustrated by the lack of quality applicants in the sheep and beef industry. She was excited about the opportunity to make a real difference with the GFF employer-led initiative.


GFF offers clear and accessible pathways for young people as well as a relevant and quality tertiary education. Jo believes the real point of difference is the opportunity to offer pastoral care and support to both the student and farmer trainer.

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Hamish Murray

Director & Manager, Bluff Station, Marlborough

Hamish Murray is the manager/director of Bluff Station – a large high country property in Marlborough running Merino sheep, beef cattle and 800 beehives.


The business, run in conjunction with family, employs several shepherds, general staff and beekeepers.


Hamish studied at Lincoln University before reading economics at Cambridge University (UK). He has recently been involved in the PQF Governance group, supporting farmers recovering from the Kaikoura earthquake, and completed a Nuffield scholarship in 2019 looking at Future Farm Workplaces.

“Helping and coaching other young people involved in agriculture to grow is important to me and GFF provides a platform to do that.”

Staff Members


Wendy Paul

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I have worked for several multi-national organisations over the last 25 years of my career and I have joined GFF after 18 years with dairy Co-operative Fonterra, where I held a variety of roles across supply chain, customer services, sales, risk management, crisis response, governance, brand/reputation management and organisational change.

I led the reset of the Co-op’s Purpose and shift in culture required to deliver on the long-term strategic direction where I recently held the position of Director Culture and Wellbeing.


I have also held several board roles, most recently with the New Zealand Defence Force and volunteers for Springboard Trust, an organisation focused on supporting school Principals with their Strategic Planning.


I am at my best when in service of others, making meaningful and impactful contributions to something bigger and participating in activity that makes a sustainable and intergenerational difference for communities. I am dedicated to life-long learning and is a graduate of the Global Women’s Breakthrough Leadership course and a member of the International Women’s Forum.


I hold a Certificate in Maritime Studies and a Bachelor of Commerce Degree with Majors in Private Law and Transport Economics.


I live in the North Shore of Auckland with my husband, son and two dogs.

Taryn Helm

Lead Liaison Manager

I have come on board with Growing Future Farmers as the agriculture industry is something I am very passionate about. I see the need and space to create an opportunity to train young people, grow them into future farmers and give back to our sector.

I look forward to embarking on the two-year journey with the students, watching them grow from strength to strength into capable keen young employees.

I am based in the Gisborne Region, on a sheep & beef property with her husband and two children.

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Allysha James

King Country Liaison Manager

​I live just south of Te Kuiti on a station that my husband manages. Before meeting my husband and joining the sheep and beef industry, I grew up as a dairy farmer in the Morrinsville area. I have also trained and worked in the veterinary industry as a Vet nurse and Large Animal Veterinary Technician.

I am passionate about the farming industry and thoughally enjoy supporting, and building relationships with our students and farm trainers, watching them grow and achieve their goals.

Morgan Lilley

West Waikato Liaison Manager

I live in the small settlement of Te Akau, where my husband has recently accepted a Co Management role at Waimai Romney. Prior to moving to Te Akau, we were based in the Wairarapa where we managed large scale sheep and beef properties. We also spent time living on Smedley Station where I found a love for helping young people thrive in the rural sector and developed my skills in pastoral care.


I have three children and in my spare time I enjoy fishing, gardening and being active in the outdoors.

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Caroline (Chick) Bridge

Wairoa Liaison Manager

I am married to Crispin and we have three adult sons.

We own a Sheep and Beef Farm and Citrus Orchard at Manutuke, south of Gisborne. Previously, I was the Gateway Co-ordinator at Gisborne Boy’s High School, where I found it hugely rewarding helping the boy’s decide on their future career pathways and helping them into the workforce. I particularly enjoyed the Farming boy’s, as Farming is my background. GFF is filling a much needed gap in the training of our young Future Farmers. It makes me very happy to see this reasonably new initiative expanding throughout the country.


I enjoy horse riding, running, biking and gardening in my spare time

Andrea James

Taihape Liaison Manager
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I live at Pukeokahu where my husband Dan manages Makokomiko Station a 2400ha sheep and beef property.  We have two boys, Tom who is at Feilding High and Charlie attends the local Pukeokahu School.  In my spare time I enjoy horse riding, gardening, being part of an active community and helping Dan on the farm.


The opportunity to be a part of Growing Future Farmers was very exciting as both Dan and myself have found it a challenge to employ suitable staff and see a need in the Agricultural Industry to help young people start their career.


I look forward to watching my students grow, achieve their goals and follow their careers once they leave the programme.  I enjoy surrounding myself with like-minded people and am excited to be given the opportunity to be a part of Growing Future Farmers.

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Nicky Mcdonald-Wells

Taranaki Liaison Manager

Along with my husband, Layton and our three children, we own a Sheep, Beef and Dairy support farm at Toko, in Taranaki. The Growing Future Farmers program combines my passions of young people and education by empowering our youth in an industry that I value greatly and love being a part of.  This is the first year of having Growing Future Farmers in Taranaki and it has been awesome. I am now tasked with growing our amazing program and giving even more young people the opportunity to enter this exciting industry.  Our Moto of “We grow future farmers together” resonates with me as this program is a collaboration of the students, the farm trainers, tutors and many others and myself, as the student’s pastoral carer, a team which guarantees success.  We are all here because we care, we want these students to develop into good humans!

In my spare time I love cross fit, adventure racing and anything that gets the sweat flowing. My family and friends are incredibly important to me and I truly treasure them.  My students are now an extension to my family.

Going forward, I am excited to be a part of my students success and creating many good Taranaki young farmers.

Laura Gavin

Gisborne Liaison Manager

My husband, Matt, and I are sheep and beef farming just south of Gisborne with our three children. I have grown up in rural Gisborne within a family of horse riding livestock agents and auctioneers. Before starting a family I was the Sport Coordinator at Campion College and since have completed a Diploma of Primary Industry Business Management.

I am passionate about the primary industry sector and feel that Growing Future Farmers has created an excellent opportunity for young people to join our important and rewarding industry.

I am excited to join the GFF team and be a part of some special pathways into farming.

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Helen Brennan

Health, Safety & Wellbeing Manager

I have grown up in the South Wairarapa on a sheep, beef and cropping farm, I then went on to study a Diploma in Rural Business Management. From here, I spent many years shepherding and as a Farm Technician throughout the North and South Island.

I am based near Flemington, where my husband manages Te Whangai Station. We have three children aged 8, 5 and 3. 

I have recently completed a Graduate Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety.

I enjoy surrounding myself with others who have the same passion as I for our Agricultural Industry and take pride in helping others succeed to achieve their goals.

Natalie Priestly

Wairarapa South Liaison Manager

I grew up getting my boots dirty in Eketahuna and have spent time working on farms from Akitio to Pirinoa. My roots are in this region, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

I have a background in farming and completed Ag ITO level 3 while training on a farm in Pongaroa.  I have a diploma in Veterinary Nursing and am a qualified Large Animal Technician. I worked in the veterinary industry for 10 years, and my passion was always the large animal work and the rural clients.

I have recently worked as a pastoral care provider on a program designed to prepare young people with substantial barriers to sustained employment after leaving school. The skills I have learnt will be a bonus when supporting the cadets with self-management, communication, resilience and other soft skills required to succeed in life.

I have two children aged 10 and 5, and my husband owns and manages a beekeeping company in Masterton. He is also on the Wairarapa College agricultural advisory committee. We both have the passion for passing on knowledge to support growth in our community and take pride in watching young people learn and achieve their goals.

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Jo Loe

North Canterbury Liaison Manager/Programme Manager

I left school to spend a year in South America as an AFS student before 
studying Early Childhood Education. After two years, I transferred to complete a Bachelor of Teaching and Learning and began my career as a primary school teacher.

Sport has always been a big part of my life, and I still enjoy playing 
tennis, squash and netball, as well as following the girls with their 

I enjoy being involved in our community and have had representative 
roles on our local school Board of Trustees and our local Community  Committee, and various administrative roles in different clubs.

After 24 years of teaching, I decided I was ready for a change and was 
extremely lucky that an opportunity to join the GFF team came up.

Jane Medlicott

Geraldine Liaison Manager

I live up the Rangitata Gorge, near Geraldine on my partner’s farm, Rata Peaks Station where we farm sheep, beef and deer.


I am a trained Primary Teacher and am stepping back from the classroom to spend more time on the farm and in my new role with GFF. I do relief teaching around the Geraldine area and am also running an Agricultural Club at Mayfield School, one day a week.


I grew up on sheep and beef farms in the North Island around Wanganui, and moved down South 11 years ago. In my spare time I enjoy horse riding, jet boating and spending time with family and friends.

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Kathryn (Ping) Horn

Kurow Liaison Manager

I was attracted to this role as I enjoy working with people and seeing the students grow in knowledge. 

I am married to Chris; we have three school-aged children. We have an agricultural spraying business based in Otekaieke, serving the upper Waitaki Valley and Hakataramea Valley. 

I have always been involved in the rural sector; I grew up on my parent's farm in Waiau, North Canterbury. I have worked on farms, am a trained vet nurse, managed the local rural supplies store, and am now a casual employee at Farmlands Kurow. 

I know the challenges of finding suitable staff, and I am excited to see where these students journeys will take them after their two years on the Growing Future Farmers programme.

Amy Priest

Southland Liaison Manager/Marketing & Brand Manager

I grew up on a sheep and beef farm in Western Southland and I have a background in rural banking, hospitality management and administration. My husband Joel and I have recently dived into an equity partnership on a sheep, beef and deer farm in Northern Southland along with our two school aged children .

I am really looking forward to supporting the students and building relationships with them and the farm trainers. I'm excited to see the students increase their knowledge and progress over the next two years.

I enjoying keeping fit and training for adventure racing as well as cooking, gardening and spending time with my family & friends.

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Our Partners

Our Partners

We would like to thank the following major sponsors.

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