James Robertson Named as Prestigious Zanda McDonald Award Finalist

Posted by on 8 November 2019 | Comments

Our very own FMG Young Farmer of the Year, James Robertson, has been named as a finalist for the Zanda McDonald Award.

The prestigious tans-Tasman award is seen as a badge of honour in agriculture, recognising passionate and outstanding young professionals in the sector.

FMG Young Farmer of the Year 2019 James Robertson

The two other finalists for the 2020 trophy are Dr Elle Moyle, 29, from Victoria and Jack Raharuhi, 27, from Westport.

The top three were selected after being interviewed by a judging panel last month in Wellington from a shortlist of six applicants.

22 year old James Robertson hails from a dairy farm in the Waikato, and is a Sales Graduate for Fonterra in Auckland. He was the 2019 FMG NZ Young Farmer of the Year recipient, and is actively involved in a number of industry groups including Worksafe, Future Food Network and Young Farmer, where he’s currently secretary for the Auckland branch. Robertson is committed to sharing his passion for the industry and sharing good news stories via his strong social media channels.

James Robertson competing at the 2019 Grand Final


Jack Raharuhi, Buller Dairy Group Operations Manager for Pāmu Farms in Westport was the winner of the Ahuwhenua Young Maori Farmer of the Year Award in 2016. In his current role at Pāmu he oversees 10 dairy farms across three areas on the coast. Raharuhi is also heavily involved with coaching, training and mentoring staff, as part of the West Coast 2IC Development Programme.

 Elle Moyle, a District Veterinarian for Agriculture Victoria also owns her own sheep and beef property in Hamilton Victoria. She has a focus and interest on biosecurity and animal health, checking health of livestock and unexplained disease with the aim of improving their overall condition and welfare. Moyle was a finalist in the national Nuffield Scholarship earlier this year, is a guest lecturer at both La Trobe and Melbourne University and a volunteer firefighter.

Award Chairman Richard Rains says the judges were really impressed and inspired by all six of the shortlisted applicants.

"It would be an understatement to say that these young individuals are doing great things in agriculture. The achievements they’re all making in their given fields are nothing short of exceptional, but the top three all really have the X-factor,” he said.

 “James is actively involved in numerous industry bodies and organisations, giving a youth voice where it counts, Elle is both a vet and a farmer making real inroads in optimising animal health and welfare, and Jack is delivering fantastic results by inspiring, leading and mentoring his teams and creating a really positive team culture.”

“James, Elle and Jack all have a real passion for what they do. They are great ambassadors for our sector, and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to help them make a broader impact through this award.”

The winner of the award will pick up an impressive personal development package, including mentoring with industry leaders, and travel that includes chartered flights on a private jet to reach remote and diverse farming operations around Australasia.   

 The winner will be announced on 31 March at the Platinum Primary Producers Conference Gala Awards Dinner.