Kiwi and Aussie farmers visit agribusiness operations across Hawke’s Bay as part of Rabobank alumni tour

Twenty-one farmers from across New Zealand and Australia have recently spent three days visiting agribusiness operations across the Hawke’s Bay region on the Rabobank BusinessManagement Programme (BMP) alumni tour.

The tour – one of the several events being held this year to celebrate 25 years of Rabobank’s Business Management Programmes – was attended by 12 programme alumni from New Zealand and nine from Australia and took in visits to half a dozen leading agricultural operations across the Hawke’s Bay region.

The two Rabobank BMPs –– the Executive Development Programme (EDP) for farm business owners or senior managers and the Farm Managers Programme (FMP) for up and-coming farmers – are run annually by Rabobank with the aim of equipping farmers with the latest in business management thinking.

More than 1300 of Australia and New Zealand’s most progressive farmers have so far graduated from Rabobank’s Business Management Programmes over the past 25 years, with alumni events for past participants held on a regular basis in locations across New Zealand and Australia.

2024 Rabobank Business Management Alumni Tour 

The six agribusiness operations visited on the latest alumni tour were horticultural producer Apatu Farms, beef operators Newstead Farm and Rissington Station, snack-sized apple producer Rockit Apples, agricultural education training institute Smedley Station, and dairy farming business Springhill Dairies.

Business Management Programme Director Robin Stonecash said the alumni tour exemplified the camaraderie of the BMPs.

“Participants from across the years and programmes quickly became friends. The theme of this year’s alumni tour was resilience – in the face of Cyclone Gabrielle for the Hawke’s Bay region and highlighted how the farms and businesses we saw came together to help each other through,” she said.

“To see the devastation of such a beautiful and bountiful region was heartbreaking, but it was uplifting to see and hear how everyone has worked together to restore their community.

“We also learned about some extraordinary businesses who are utilising their land in the best way with an eye on sustainability, ensuring productivity for future generations. This is the strength of people who come on the EDP and the FMP – the ability to share knowledge and experience, make friends, challenge and support each other. And I am very proud to be able to contribute to this through my role with the BMPs.”

Day two of the tour saw the alumni visit Newstead Farm, an 817-hectare beef operation run by Rob and Helen Pattullo. Mr Pattullo – who attended EDP 13 across 2009 and 2010 – said it was terrific to host the touring alumni group.

“There were several people on the tour who I’ve met before, so it’s been great reconnecting with them,” he said.

“I also really enjoyed talking to the alumni about our business operation and some of the changes we’ve made to the way we run the farm over the years.”

Reflecting on his own participation on the EDP more than a decade ago, Mr Pattullo said he’d got a lot out of programme attendance.

“It was a fantastic programme, god I was lucky to be invited to that,” he said.

“You don’t know anyone, and you go straight in, and you’re networking with key people, great people all doing the same thing you’re doing.

“I thoroughly enjoyed it as you’re challenged across a whole lot of stuff like negotiation, human resources, finances, land management, succession, and it was in a great sized bite, with two week-long courses a year apart.”

Mr Pattullo said the ongoing alumni programme events were another major plus of EDP attendance.

“With the alumni events, one of the best things is going to areas that you haven’t visited before,” he said.

“You’re experiencing different ways of doing things. It’s a continuation of the EDP, you’re learning, you’re bringing stuff back to your own farming business, you’re developing your networks, and I love it.”

Applications for the 2024 intake of the two BMPs are currently open and close on Friday 22 March. This year’s FMP will take place in Yarra Valley, Victoria in mid-June, while the EDP is set to take place in Sydney, New South Wales in late August.

Rabobank New Zealand is a part of the global Rabobank Group, the world’s leading specialist in food and agribusiness banking. Rabobank has more than 120 years’ experience providing customized banking and finance solutions to businesses involved in all aspects of food and agribusiness. Rabobank is structured as a cooperative and operates in 38 countries, servicing the needs of about 8.6 million clients worldwide through a network of close to 1000 offices and branches. Rabobank New Zealand is one of the country's leading agricultural lenders and a significant provider of business and corporate banking and financial services to the New Zealand food and agribusiness sector. The bank has 27 offices throughout New Zealand.


Media contacts:

David Johnston
Marketing & Media Relations Manager
Rabobank New Zealand
Phone: 04 819 2711 or 027 477 8153

Denise Shaw
Head of Media Relations 
Rabobank Australia & New Zealand 
Phone: +612 8115 2744 or +61 2 439 603 525