A farmer who found his niche online showing a 360-degree view of life on the land is now refocussing to help the hundreds of first-time dairy workers expected to walk onto farms over the next year.
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SUPPLIED Southland farmer Tangaroa Walker hopes to use the high profile of his Farm 4 Life social media channels to develop an app to train people heading to work on dairy farms for the first time.

Social media identity Tangaroa Walker said his new online Farm 4 Life Hub will comprise a database of short training videos providing newbie dairy assistants with tutorials and information relevant to their work on the farm.

An app for the Hub is being developed and will be available via a membership for farmers to use as a training and education resource for their staff.

“We’ve just got Honda onboard and so what we’ve done is produced 35 videos with them around how to operate and maintain farm vehicles, like side-by-side vehicles, quad bikes and motorbikes,” Walker said.

“So for example, if a farmer wants to use those videos to help train staff, using the app, all they need to do is drag and drop the tutorial onto the staff members name, and it’ll pop up on their phone to view.”

The Hub and a connecting private Facebook page for members went live this month and there will be 200 videos loaded to it by the end of July.

By the end of the first year it’s expected 1100 videos will be added and 2200 inside two years.

Walker said face-to-face learning between a farmer and staff was still important but these days time for on-farm training was limited.

“It just means we’ve got to change and start using technology more.

“Everyone has a phone in their pocket which means the Hub app and all of its training videos go wherever the workers go, or wherever the farmer goes.”

Walker said long term he hoped the app would become a recognised training resource, adopted by the dairy industry.

Dairy workers could become “Hub Certified” or recognised for the training courses completed through the online initiative.

A worker could use the Hub to keep a record of their training as part of a CV to advance their career.

It was also hoped schools and job seekers use the app as an educational tool, to promote dairy as a career option.

Walker was trained on a dairy farm in Whakamārama near Tauranga and moved to Southland about 10 years ago to pursue career opportunities.

He is of Ngati Pukenga decent in the Bay of Plenty and has worked to encourage more Māori into dairy farming.

He was the inaugural winner of the Ahu Whenua New Zealand Young Māori Farmer of the Year Award and the Southland Primary ITO Trainee of the Year, both in 2012.

He has more than 180,000 followers across his Farm 4 Life social media channels which he’ll use to promote the Hub.

His Farm 4 Life YouTube channel covers everything from working with stock, how to calve a breach cow to explaining what a cow tag is and how he entered the dairy industry.

He said the Hub was something he had first thought of a few years ago but serious planning began in December 2019.

During the Covid-19 lockdown, Walker and his business partner John Schol, chief executive of accountants firm Malloch McClean Invercargill, were able to dedicate some serious time to moving the app forward.

The border restrictions, preventing migrant workers’ return, mean more New Zealanders need to be recruited to fill jobs on dairy farms.

Walker said the Hub app could be an important tool to train the new entrants.

“Absolutely. I think when a crisis happens you need to innovate or you fold.”

Walker also agreed attempting to get more Kiwis into dairy had been a challenge for many years before the pandemic hit.

“I think we have to be more opened minded, not only to technology, but also to different cultural situations.

“We are not just getting European-Kiwis into dairy, but also Indian-Kiwis and Filipino-Kiwis and Māori.

“These people were born in New Zealand but still get labelled as coming from other countries.

“The dairy industry needs to make a huge cultural change in this area.”

Dairy farmers can do more together than individually.

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