Zimbabwean heads Dairy New Zealand

via Zimbabwean heads Dairy New Zealand 12/11/ by Fairfax NZ News

ZIMBABWEAN James Muwunganirwa has been on the job for just over a month as DairyNZ ‘s regional leader for the lower North Island and is enjoying it.

It is a far cry from working as an extension leader in his homeland in the early 2000s where farm invasions left him and other Ministry of Agriculture extension officers in vulnerable positions.

“The extension managers felt very powerless at the time because we were tasked with taking advice to the government in terms of coming up with a national plan of re-settlement, which was not being adhered to,” he said.

It was then that Muwunganirwa looked at coming to New Zealand.

He had joined the Ministry of Agriculture in Zimbabwe after leaving university, and worked in the extension services department in various capacities but left his home country in 2005 when the economy started going pear-shaped and the land invasions peaked.

“I had started a small family with my wife, Gladys, and I sort of cast my eyes on the horizon. I was looking at the future – what it had in terms of my young kids and my wife – and it was looking bleak.

“It so happened that a mate I had worked with had come out in 2002 and he had worked on a couple of dairy farms in the South Island before he left to join the Ashburton District Council.”

Muwunganirwa’s friend encouraged him to look for job opportunities and he received a job offer while still at home.

“So that’s when I took the leap of faith. So I packed my bags and hopped on to the plane, leaving my wife and two kids behind,” he recalled.

“My plan coming here was that I wanted to initially get a very good handle on New Zealand pasture-based farm systems and on the back of that to go into what I always wanted to do, which is extension work.

“I am working with farmers to improve profitability and sustainability of their dairy farm businesses.”

He started off milking cows in the South Island for a 50-50 sharemilker south of Timaru. At that job he milked 650 cows in a grass-only system as an assistant herd manager.

After doing that job for 18 months, he decided it was time for more responsibility so he moved to North Canterbury to a similar-sized herd but also looked after one-half of the farm and half of the herd.

“At that point my wife joined me, because I had left them for a while.”


Muwunganirwa had the role for 3 years before he felt he was “ripe enough in terms of getting back into extension work”.

He got a job with DairyNZ as a consulting officer based in Whangarei, before coming to his present role in the lower North Island. His region includes 1,100 dairy farms in the Horizons, Greater Wellington and Hawke’s Bay regions.

“My job entails driving on-farm change and ensuring it results in the securing of profitability, the sustainability and the competitiveness of dairy farms in the lower North Island,” he said.

He has a team of three consulting officers working on improving herd reproductive performance and helping farms to comply with new regulations around the nutrient management programmes of Horizon’s One Plan.

“Our role is to make sure we assist farmers in terms of coming up with nutrient management plans that will see them getting the consents they require for those farms that are in the priority catchments.”

He also runs a couple of dairy discussion groups, one in Shannon and one in Otaki.

The main topics of discussion in the groups are managing surplus, maintaining pasture quality and capturing the cash.

“This spring has been uncharacteristically good to the extent that most people have found themselves with huge surpluses that they have had to deal with and that obviously presents challenges in managing pasture quality.

“We are trying to ensure that farmers are as profitable as they can be in a high pay-out year.”

He said trends showed that in such years expenses tended to rise as everyone wanted to produce more milk so they could chase the dollar.



  • comment-avatar

    Great story. I wish you and your family well. Zimbabwe’s loss but Zealand’s gain. Amazing a basically white nation accepting a black to run their dairy set up. Where is the racism Zanoids?

    • comment-avatar
      nesbert majoni 10 years ago

      True dear. ZANU pf just lost it by violently taking the farms from the whites. There was no need of all that overreaction. Look where the country is. How can a president of a country sink so low by scoring cheap political goals which sink the economy of his country. Sham

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      Boss MyAss 10 years ago

      Racism is for the foolish. Government is using that to divide and conquer.Some people are still to foolish enough, full of hate to be racists. There was a time when you didn’t know what you know today. People are pretty much alike. It’s only that our differences are more susceptible to definition than our similarities. While there is a lower class I am in it, while there is a criminal element I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free. Whatever you may be sure of, be sure of this: That you are dreadfully like other people. There is no saint without a past, and no sinner without a future. At the end of this journey, we go back from where we came. Regardless of our apparent differences, we are all the same.

      Wouldn’t life be easier if we just stopped comparing ourselves to others? We are all the same; no one is higher or lower than you. We continuously try to trip our brothers but we forget that we are chained ankle to ankle with them and when we hurt them, their pain reflects back to us. Think outside of the box, create your own path in life. You laugh at me because I am different; I laugh because you are all the same.
      Genes are small parts of your cell that are the pattern for what you look like. You get all your genes from your parents. You will have light or dark skin depending on what kind of genes you parents have, not from polka dots! Red and yellow, black and white, and let’s not forget brown; to get all these skin colours it would seem that there must be red, yellow, brown, black and white colourings or pigments in the skin. But in fact, there is only one skin colour: a brown pigment called melanin. We basically all have the same skin colour, just different amounts of melanin. Albinos have no melanin, so they have very white skin (almost pink because of the blood vessels that show through).

  • comment-avatar

    Congrats Mr Muwunganirwa. You can now provide adequately for your family. Good luck to you.

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    You are a real comrade, it demands one to be focused, keep it up bro

  • comment-avatar
    Nyoni 10 years ago

    There is a problem in Zimbabwe!

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    gabarinocheka mugabe 10 years ago

    In your dreams mabhoyi , dream on . Point of correction . James is the regional leader not the leader of Dairy NZ. The post is equivalent to being the branch manager of a certain company .

    Let me reiterate this . Mabhoyi hamudiwe nemavheti and they will never like you . While the guy got a really good job I don’t think it’s something to be celebrated in the media . You guys are acting as if he has been appointed to the fontera board .

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    anthony 10 years ago

    why don’t u all stay in your country.?? is that not what u wanted in April 1980 ? country destroyed. jewel of africa as nyerere said. everything stolen ! wow ! we were right !! very right !!

  • comment-avatar
    Nyoni 10 years ago

    MAKOROTO TO YOU MY BROTHER. You have achieved a goal without nepotism etc.

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    Just wait till Zimbabwe is good, tokutambira back home with two hands.

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    Amazing how some will not accept someone success and give credit where it due. Making assumption they will not like him. Damn you you arsehole. I am white and my best friend happens to be black. So bloody what. He is my friend because we are kindred spirits not because of any ulterior motive. Have you ever tried to make a friend with anyone outside your race. If not you should try. And by the way you just like me have people from our own ethnic GRUOP that donot like me or you. What do we calm them ethinracists. It’s human nature not to get on with everybody but at the same time we do not have to generalize about a GRUOP as you have. It’s pathetic that you are so racist to say they donot like him.

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    Mugabe criminals shame on you