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From Delivery Boy to HB Farmer of the Year

At the age of 12, Hawke’s Bay’s 2018 Farmer of the Year David Danks had a fated encounter that would one day come true, leading him to earn the prestigious award.

Collecting money for his milk and paper runs in Westshore, he called on a house, where the lady asked him what he wanted to do when he grew up. “To be a farmer,” David replied.

She pointed to the hills and said, “I own a farm up there. Maybe you’ll come and work for me.”

It wasn’t until he’d been at Monarae Station, Putere, in Northern Hawke’s Bay, for a while that he remembered this conversation and it “clicked” that the woman he spoke to was the late Pam Torbett.

Although he was unsuccessful for a Smedley cadetship, he gained a five-year cadetship with Federated Farmers, and began his career, moving to Tutira as a manager. He moved to stock manager working three properties and started at Monarae in 1991.

He’s been there for 27 years. It was founded in 1928 with the purchase of 3,200 acres by the Torbett family and became a charitable trust in 1988, which has benefitted many local charities. The trustees are chairman Roydan Day and Doug Smith.

He farms sheep, cattle and deer in a 51/35 and 14 percent split on 1,530 hectares (1,171 effective), including a 90-hectare property in Wairoa with its own block manager.

In accepting the award, David said a number of people had been of tremendous support and inspiration to him over the years.

He thanked his partner Jeanette Nestved and their dedicated team, and expressed great admiration for the late Alf Dixon who was the chairman and main trustee when he started. Alf arranged for the farm to be placed into a charitable trust under Pam’s wish just before she passed away in 1988 and had a huge love for Monarae.

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