Dairy farmers like lending a helping hand

December 19 2019

Photo creditl: IHC Rural Calf Scheme
With Christmas being the season for giving, here’s a story about dairy farmers who have been giving this year. One of the initiatives is in Canterbury; the other national, involving farmers from North Cape to Bluff.

Stepping in at the local school

The Canterbury district of Hurunui has had some challenging times over the past few years.

Although referred to as the Kaikoura earthquake, the 2016 tremor that caused widespread damage was centered in the Hurunui district 15kms north east of the town of Culverden.  The region also suffered severe drought over three years from 2014 to 2017, impacting many farmers and their families, and, in turn, the local businesspeople serving the community.

The Hurunui district has banded together to overcome the adversity in a variety of ways, including helping support Amuri Area School in Culverden where the sale of calves donated by dairy farmers has raised $20,000 annually in the past couple of years.

Amuri principal James Griggs says the school is really lucky to have such a supportive community.

“The calf fundraiser is our biggest event. We use this funding for a range of school activities, and it means that our children don’t miss out on regional and national events that they probably wouldn’t get to attend otherwise.”

One of the generous donors is dairy farmer and ex All Black, Kevin O’Neill.

“It’s important we support our local school. Our community has gone through some tough times, but everyone supports each other,” he says.

He donated two ‘virtual calves’ in a scheme developed following the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak whereby farmers can make a monetary donation in lieu of an actual calf.

Over the past 12 months local dairy farmers have donated over 60 calves to the school under this scheme, raising around $20,000.



Amuri Area School sign
Everyone belongs here

On a mission to create equal opportunity for children with intellectual disabilities, 35 years ago a small group of parents developed a fundraising partnership with farmers and others in rural communities nationwide.

This is the IHC Calf and Rural scheme through which farmers around the country select some of their biggest and best calves to donate. Some 4,000 farmers are typically involved and over $1 million is raised most years for IHC.

Historically, the calves donated by farmers were sold in special sales managed by PGG Wrightson with the proceeds going to IHC.

Today, as farmers do for Amuri school,  those supporting the IHC scheme can pledge a virtual calf in lieu of a real one.

For the real calves still going to sale, pink ear tags show that proceeds will be donated to IHC.

While the process of the scheme has changed, its purpose has not – to make a real difference to the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, particularly those living in rural communities.

Farmers say that getting in behind this scheme gives them a great sense of community and they like to lend a hand to make sure everyone has a place and is valued for who they are.

Media inquiries:

Lee Cowan

Senior Engagement & Communications Manager

Phone 021 930 836


Vanessa Fever

Senior Communications and Media Specialist

Phone 027 836 6295


Photo usage: If you require high-resolution versions of photos featured in this article, please contact lee.cowan@dairynz.co.nz