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Jacob Ratu

Tūhoe, Te Whakatōhea, Kāi Tahu, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Apa

Dairy Farm Manager, Broadlands Dairy Unit

Jacob Ratu (Tūhoe, Te Whakatōhea, Kāi Tahu, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Apa) is Dairy Farm Manager at Broadlands Dairy Unit where he applies a Māori world-view to farm operations and people leadership.     

In 2007, I was working for Ian Nelson on a farm in Putaruru. Ian knew David Morgan who was developing farms on Pastoral complex along with Allan Bullick. Dave asked Ian to manage a new farm being developed (Resolution) and Ian asked me to join him.

Jacob’s rise through the ranks is impressive and underscores the upwards career mobility available at Pāmu.

“I started as a Dairy Assistant on Resolution and the following season I was promoted to Assistant Production Manager (3IC) on Pinta. In November 2008 I was then offered a promotion to Production Manager (2IC) on Broadlands and then became Farm Manager in 2011.”

“Dave Morgan was instrumental in me becoming Farm Manager of Broadlands. Unfortunately, Dave died shortly after leaving Pāmu. We erected a memorial on Broadlands in his honour.”

In October 2020, a new challenge was offered up to Jacob and the team as Broadlands began the conversion to Organics. 

“Cleo Te Kiri (BM, Pāmu Organics) has been a mentor since then. She is a wealth of knowledge in Organics. Cleo and other organic farm managers give guidance and share learnings from their conversions to organics.”

Jacob’s advice to rangatahi Māori with aspirations to be successful in the dairy industry is to stay true to your roots.

“Holdfast to your beliefs. I grew up with my pakeke (elders) so I have a great belief in kaitiakitanga and manaakitanga. I make sure to take care of our farm and our people – physically and spiritually.”

Jacob expresses that conversion to organics aligns with his values.

“Organic farming has a lot of values similar to Māoritanga.  Understanding that everything — whether it be a plant, water, animal — has a mauri and that each thing can have an impact on things around it. We at Broadlands act as kaitiaki to farm in a way that limits the negative effects of farming.”

“To me organic farming is like our kaumātua, kuia use to farm –  low inputs, no fertiliser, no antibiotics, lower stocking rates. As we all know, there is a lot of attention to detail on organic farms, you cannot take your finger off the pulse”.

“I take great pride in having a team that are all Māori.  I think by staff being part of the solution and being able to have a say, it gives them a lot of ownership and pride in the farm. If you care for your staff they will return the favour and care for you as an employer and friend and in turn care for the farm. This may be why we have such a low turnover.”