Safer Farms has welcomed three new Directors to its Board, including Lindy Nelson who has also been announced as the organisation’s new Chair.

The Agri Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) founder has taken over from Justine Kidd, who has chaired Safer Farms since its formation in 2017 and will remain on the Board.

Federated Farmers’ Vice President Karen Williams and Zanda MacDonald Award Winner Jack Raharuhi were named as the new Directors at the organisation’s AGM.

Kidd said the high calibre and large number of applicants for the positions were a true testament to the passion the industry has for its people.

“It was really tough with so many business leaders putting themselves forward, but we are thrilled to be welcoming Karen, Jack and Lindy to the Board table,” she said.

Kidd said the skills and experience the trio bring would be essential for Safer Farms’ transition from establishment to sustainability.

Nelson has spent the last ten years growing the capability of women in the sector and said health and safety also needed urgent attention.

“We need to shift the sector’s belief that health and safety is a compliance-based thing, to it being culture based and incorporating every part of your business,” she said.

“It is good business practice, and we need to help people create that mind shift. Women are also really pivotal in helping to support those on farm changes that need to occur.”

Enacting change isn’t new to Nelson, who was also part of a team which designed a cutting-edge health and safety programme with AWDT. 

“I’ve been able to do a lot of sector transformation through founding and leading the Agri Women’s Development Trust so I want to be able to use those networks, those relationships and those influences from Ministers down to grassroots, to normalise really good health and safety practice within businesses,” she said.

“Being a farmer myself gives me a legitimacy to talk around that, I know what it takes, I know how hard it is to incorporate health and safety but I also know the effect it has on the business when you can incorporate a really good health and safety culture.”

Jack Raharuhi who was named as the prestigious 2020 Zanda MacDonald Award winner, is currently the operations manager for Pamu Farms in Buller, looking after farms in Cape Foulwind and Westport.

Health and safety is something Raharuhi has held close to his heart after a very close friend was killed in a quad bike accident at the tender age of 16.

“Ever since then, I’ve been really passionate about sending everyone home safe to their whanau,” he said.

“Health and safety is a huge part of leadership and management in big teams, it’s pastoral care for a team. I think when you provide pastural care and send people home safe at the end of the day, productivity of work is a lot higher.”

Raharuhi was looking forward to getting started with a group of like-minded people.

“What I bring to the table is a good practical eye and some good coal face experience. Hopefully that can bring things into reality and I can give some practicalities around some of the thinking as well.”

Along with the Zanda MacDonald Award, he also has other accolades under his belt, including 2016 Ahuwhenua Young Maori Farmer of the Year and 2017 West Coast top of the south farm manager of the year.

Karen Williams is not only Federated Farmers’ Vice President and health and safety spokesperson, but also an arable farmer.

She runs a 224ha mixed cropping and beef and lamb finishing property in the Wairarapa alongside her husband and three children.

Williams’ was the first woman to lead the Federation’s Arable Sector when appointed two years ago.

Passionate for change and the need to see everyone walk through the door from their day jobs alive and uninjured, she is looking forward to assisting in another leadership space.

“I’m really keen to make sure that we embrace a culture of change, we’re currently too blasé,” she said.

“It’s time we busted the bravado that it’s okay to take unnecessary risk, it’s okay to think ‘she’ll be right’ and that it’s okay to celebrate in jest at the pub about our near misses. We should be focusing on ‘how we avoid our staff, family, visitors and ourselves from being hurt?’.”

Living on an active working farm with both machinery and livestock, she knows first-hand how accidents on farm can happen, and the impact they have on the victim as well as their loved ones.   

“There’s got to be investment that becomes just part of your routine – like letting the dogs off in the morning and feeding them at the end of the day. We need to embrace a culture of positive change so that our people are safe,” she said.  

“Working safely needs to be built into all conversations and there’s lots of little things we can do to change the way we approach the challenge of farming with risk, both on and off the farm.”

The trio have replaced Andrew Morrison and Nicole Rosie who stepped down during the year due to changes in their work roles, and Stephen Carden who stepped down at the AGM.

“Stephen was our founding leader and the group came together following his leadership to convene, ask and discuss with other agricultural business CEO’s the question ‘what do we want to do about our harm statistics in Ag,” Justine Kidd said. 

Thanking the departing for their support, discussion, debate and willingness to step up on behalf of farmers throughout New Zealand, Kidd said they’d helped to lead incredibly important work and sector discussion.