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Dairy Woman of the Year finalists announced

Dairy Woman of the Year finalists announced

Four women from throughout New Zealand have been selected as Dairy Women's Network's 2015 Dairy Woman of the Year finalists.

They are:
  • PGG Wrightson animal nutritionist Andrea Murphy of Alexandra
  • Dairy director Wilma van Leeuwen of Waimate
  • Southland Demonstration Farm director Elaine Cook of Waikato; and
  • Federated Farmers board member and provincial president Katie Milne of Kumara, West Coast

Run by the Dairy Women's Network and sponsored by Fonterra, the prestigious Dairy Woman of the Year Award includes a 12-month scholarship to the Breakthrough Leaders Programme run by Global Women New Zealand, valued at $25,000.

Dairy Women's Network chief executive Zelda de Villiers said judges could not whittle down the finalists to just three this year.

"I am pleased to announce that we have another high calibre group of professional dairying women in contention for the 2015 Dairy Woman of the Year title.

"It is going to be tough choosing the overall winner because they all four depict the Dairy Woman of the Year very well. They are strong performing, passionate, influential and intelligent women who are dedicated to seeing the dairy industry thrive for future generations and the whole of New Zealand."

The finalists were individually interviewed by a panel of five judges including Mark Heer from DWN's gold partner ASB Bank, Sandy Burghan, Global Women representative, DWN trustee Alison Gibb, DWN chair and 2014 Dairy Woman of the Year winner Justine Kidd, and Fonterra representative Janet Rosanowski.

The 2015 winner will be announced at a gala dinner at the Dairy Women's Network annual conference on 19 March in Invercargill.

For more information on the finalists, awards and the conference, visit


About Andrea Murphy

Originally from Canada, Andrea now lives in Alexandra, in Central Otago.

She owns her own animal nutrition business called Maple Grove Consulting Ltd., but could not pass up the opportunity of working in her dream job as a ruminant nutritionist with PGG Wrightson's Tech Team.

It was after joining the Dairy Women's Network's conference organising committee in 2007 in Invercargill, that Andrea felt she had 'found her place' in New Zealand and still attributes the Network with the success of Maple Grove Consulting Ltd.
Andrea is proud to be involved on the committee for the New Zealand Association of Ruminant Nutrition.

About Elaine Cook

Elaine and her husband progressed through the ranks from lower order sharemilkers to farm owners, starting out in the Waikato and then moving to Southland in 2000.

In 2006, the couple won New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year, having already won the Southland regional title.

In 2008, Elaine's husband died suddenly and the sharemilking business was concluded with Elaine and their three daughters moving back up to the Waikato, however she retained an interested in the South Island dairy industry and in 2011, she became a director of the Southland Demonstration Farm.

In 2013, Elaine was named the inaugural associate director to DairyNZ – a six-month appointment – and also holds roles as a strategic director for Young Farmers and chairs the governance committee for two Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment research contracts.

About Wilma van Leeuwen

Wilma and her husband have grown their dairy business over the past 29 years to milking 12,000 cows on 12 dairy farms, and started a contracting business in 1996.

In 1993 the couple and their six children moved from the Waikato to Waimate in the South Island. There, they installed the first robotic milking system in a freestall barn system in New Zealand in 2008 and have recently commissioned the largest robotic milking freestall barn in the world, milking 1500 cows with 24 robots.

Wilma's current positions of responsibility within the industry include:
  • Van Leeuwen Dairy Group director
  • Director of two other family dairy businesses
  • Van Leewen family trustee
  • Founding shareholder and active secretary of the Waitaki Milk Supply Group and Oceania Milk Supply Group

About Katie Milne
Katie farms with her partner farm at Rotomanu, Lake Brunner catchment on the West Coast of the South Island. They have a small high BW Jersey herd of 200 cows which are fed on a grass based system. On a separate run-off they rear replacement heifer calves and a localised contracting operation making silage pits, hay, baleage, effluent spreading from ponds, herd homes and stand-off pads, employing one full-time staff member.

Katie has been the West Coast provincial Federated Farmers president since 2008, and holds a position on the national board, where she is spokesperson on adverse events, rural security, local government, ACC and employment.