We are originally from Fiji. In Fiji, I was managing a small herd on a pig farm, and Ovini was a police officer. In 2017 we came looking for better opportunities for our family. I came out to New Zealand first, and applied for farming jobs. I received a lot of replies, but I chose Patoa Farms because I had all that experience with pigs. They offered me a job and helped me get my visa sorted. Six months later, Ovini and our three children Khalani, Tina and Leah came over.
Initially, the transition was difficult for us all – it was so cold after Fiji! But Patoa Farms were so helpful to us as we had to juggle work with a young family in a new country. Because Patoa has their own internal training programs, supports and pay for Primary ITO and other apprenticeship courses on farm, Ovini could retrain himself as a stock person and so, was also able to secure a full time job on the farm. They were also great with flexible working hours around the family while we settled in.
It was very easy to find a house to rent in Hawarden, close to work. We love it here because it’s rural – it’s similar to back home because it’s quiet and relaxed, not the fast-paced hustle and bustle of the city. For us that’s the biggest thing.
"We work hard but we don’t have to go far at the end of the day, so we have time for our family."
The community here is great. With the diverse workforce here at Patoa Farms, and with the kids at the local school we have gotten to know a lot of people. It’s a small community and people still have time to help each other. Everyone is very helpful when they know you are in need of assistance like helping with the kids or travelling to sports games and things like that. Sometimes it feels like an extended family.
The children love their sports and there are so many opportunities at school, which we all get involved in, like the school production, concerts or preparing for the local A&P show.
Before Covid, Ovini started a fitness bootcamp here in Hawarden and the majority of the community regularly turned up. We had firemen, teachers, students and staff from Patoa. Ovini had military and police training back in Fiji so he knows all about boxing. A lot of the students who joined us have gone on to join boxing gyms and are keeping it up. It feels good to know that Ovini introduced them to that.
As Herd Manager here at Patoa Farms, my day starts at 6.30am with a lot of planning. Throughout the day I could be doing anything from training new staff to scanning stock, health checks and vaccinations, data entry, weaning or driving tractors. Ovini is a Stockperson. He also has a variety of jobs each day, like checking the pig sheds, topping up their straw, unloading straw bales and getting pigs onto the selling trucks. He’s usually finished by around 3 or 4pm. There are a lot of staff here at Patoa Farms, all doing different things. It’s a really diverse group of people and lots of fun.
We work hard but we don’t have to go far at the end of the day, so we have time for our family. It’s not far to go to Amberley, Rangiora or Christchurch if we need to, and we enjoy exploring places nearby like the West Coast and Hanmer Springs. We’ve been able to take the children back to Fiji for regular holidays, too.
It’s easy for someone from outside to come to North Canterbury and start over. It’s so peaceful here. For us, it’s the right place.
Patoa Farms is one of New Zealand’s biggest free farmed pork producers. Patoa Farms have committed two decades to farming pigs outdoors and as close to their natural habitat as possible. They are one of our region’s most coveted agricultural employers and strive to provide a safe and fulfilling workplace. Enquire about careers at Patoa Farms here.
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