NZ Dairy Autumn 2022

24 | nzdairy Award a platform for mental health Virginia Wright DAIRY PEOPLE » Gary Sunshine-Tervit Having left school halfway through 6th form in 2007 to join his parents,William and Sharon Tervit, on the family farm in Fort Rose, near the Catlins, Gary Sunshine-Tervit has been dairy farming ever since. Along the way he met his wife Daniella and in 2013, while working and getting experience on a different farm in Wyndham, he and Daniella were married. When they then returned to the family farm he got his first experience as farm manager, and it was in that role that he started when they moved to a dairy farm at South Hill End, just north of Winton in Southland, in June 2019. Gary knew from his interview with farm owners Shane and Vicki Murphy that they weren’t just offering a job but an opportunity to progress, which he didn’t hesitate to accept. “They were offering some mentoring with view to having me managing for two years and contract milking after that,” says Gary, “and I wanted to do that as well, obviously.” Two years of successfully managing the farm has earned Gary the title of Southland Dairy Farm Manager of the year for 2021, a title he still carries although he has now transitioned into contract milking as planned. The transition also brings change for Daniella and the family as Daniella moves from learning the ropes with the calves part time last year to having full responsibility for the probable 220 heifer calves they’re expecting later this year. “We both came to the agreement that we wanted to rear these calves to the best standard possible, and Vicki does a fantastic job so Daniella learnt from her,” says Gary. An au pair at home to help out with the children, Pippa (6 yrs) and Lucy (3 yrs), and a calf-rearer to help with the calves, will round out her team. The Sunshine-Tervits are contract milking 780 Fresian/Fresian-X cows on 270 hectares of very flat land, the contours of which are quite different to what Gary was used to. “You can see the cowshed from any corner of the farm,” he says. “Coming from my Dad’s place where I’d been for 10 of my 15 years of dairying, where it’s really hilly, it’s been good, not worrying about rolling bikes or tractors or anything of the like.” Gary Sunshine-Tervit has been dairy farming ever since 2007. Knowing first-hand what it’s like having a head injury, thanks to an accident while competing in a cross-country trail ride eight years ago, the risk of injury is something Gary’s very aware of. Mental health is a big topic for Gary and Daniella and for them one of the best things about last year’s award is that it has allowed Gary to raise awareness of mental health issues, especially among men in the rural and farming community. “I had severely delayed concussion and it turned out I had damaged my frontal lobe, the left front part of my brain,” explains Gary. He ended up in what he describes as ‘a very dark and dangerous place’ and he credits Dunedin based Dr. Elizabeth Harris with helping him turn his life around. “Whether its men’s mental health or anyone’s mental health rural or not, it’s not taboo or not frowned upon to get counselling,” says Gary. “ I still go and see a counsellor every now and then myself. It’s just that thing of being in touch with your friends and neighbours and even random people, and it’s okay to not be okay. Everybody has their bad days and their down times they go through and people just need to know that the world’s always a better place with you in it and someone’s always there to lend a hand.” That’s why the Sunshine-Tervits have always had an open door policy for the staff, even when they were managing them and not yet paying their wages. “Even if it’s one in the morning, personal or professional or otherwise we’re always here to lend a hand,” says Gary, and there’s no doubt that he means what he says. “Everybody has their bad days and their down times they go through and people just need to know that the world’s always a better place with you in it and someone’s always there to lend a hand.” Kelvin Murray - - PROUD TO SUPPORT GARY SUNSHINE-TERVIT Ph: (03) 236 0466 Fax: (03) 236 0467 LIVESTOCK, GENERAL CARTAGE & FERTILISER SPREADING 03 546 6809 TM Covers Specialist fabric solutions for NewZealand Calf Shelters - Made in NZ for over 30 years