Otago dairy farmer and HFNZ stalwart Denis Aitken has been appointed Holstein Friesian NZ Patron.
“It was certainly an honour to be asked to be Patron of HFNZ, but I realised along with title comes the responsibility of being someone who can be relied on to be an advocate for the Holstein Friesian breed,” Denis said.
“As I am still involved with several other organisations I did think long and hard about taking up the role of Patron, and I hope I can do the position justice.”
Denis succeeds Brian Knutson, who was HFNZ Patron for a number of years until his retirement in 2022.
“I want to recognise the work done by Brian Knutson in his role not only as Patron, but for the Association over a number of years,” Denis says.
“I certainly learnt a lot from Brian, who always gave freely of his knowledge and expertise.”
Denis, who was awarded an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the dairy industry and his community in May 2021, now lives with wife Judy on part of what was their home dairy farm, “The Gums”.
Their youngest son Andrew and his wife Sonya milk 500 cows under the name Broomfield Stud on the home farm, while their oldest son James and his wife Celia are 3km away on “The Poplars”, milking 240 cows under the name Airdrie Stud.
Denis and Judy’s daughter Jacqui has, after 21 years with PGG Wrightson, moved with her partner Bevan to Rakaia to manage the camping ground there.
Although Denis and Judy still have a financial interest in the farms, Denis is not involved in the day-to-day running of the businesses – although, he is the self-described “odd-job man”, travelling weekly to the 300ha support farm 40km away at Middlemarch.
Denis has held several roles within Holstein Friesian NZ including Classifier, Judge, Director, President and member of the World Holstein Friesian Federation (WHFF) Type Harmonisation Working Group.
“All had their different challenges – but it was the passion for the Holstein Friesian breed and determination to get recognition within the dairy industry that kept me focused on getting common sense decisions made,” he says.
“HFNZ caters to a diverse range of people: at one end of the scale are the members who love the showing aspect of the breed, while at the other end are those who are strongly focused on the index aspect of their herd.
“And let us not forget the social and networking side of the Association, an important side of the challenging lifestyle we have chosen. There is nothing better meeting up at a sale, field day or show.”
Denis says he has also been able to help mentor a number of young people to get established in the industry.
“That comes with a great deal of satisfaction,” he says. “And none of this would have happened without the strong support of Judy.”
Denis can attend events on behalf of Holstein Friesian NZ; all invitations must come through the HFNZ office.