Emma Poole, 2023 Young Farmer of the Year. Photo by Trefor Ward.

Money Matters: Emma Poole, Young Farmer of the Year


Waikato-based farmer and vet Emma Poole made history as the first woman to win Young Farmer of the Year in 2023. She and her husband milk 1,000 cows across two farms in Pirongia.

How did you get into farming?

Mum and dad are farmers and my dad’s parents before that were farmers, so I have been surrounded by it my entire life. When I went to university, I met my husband Chris who had a similar upbringing to me.

Do you find it rewarding?

Farming is a job where you get to live and breathe your progress. Every time you improve something on farm you get to reap the benefit of that the next day; that continual improvement is very rewarding.

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2023 Young Farmer of the Year, Emma Poole. Photo by Trefor Ward.

<pDo you need to be good at business to be a successful farmer?

Not necessarily, although a good strong sense of business will help. Most people who are attracted to the industry are not doing it because they are experts at running a business; they are drawn here because they love animals, the land or machinery. The business skills tend to develop as you go along.

What did becoming New Zealand’s Young Farmer of the Year in 2023 teach you?

If you are part of a good community they will rally around and support you. If you spend time giving back to the community, that support will grow. I also learned that I knew more than I thought I did! It’s easy to underestimate your capabilities, but when you give things a go you may surprise yourself, or at least learn something along the way.

In general, does money matter to you?

I like to keep things simple and most of the things that make me happy are actually free. Yes, money matters so that I can look after my family and provide my kids with future opportunities, but I don’t let it dictate my life and happiness.

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Emma Poole with son Beau. Photo by Trefor Ward.

How would you describe your relationship with money – are you a saver or a spender?

I get a haircut only about once a year and replace a few items of clothing every few years, so my maintenance costs are low, but I do spend money on DIY projects involving the house. I absolutely love building, it’s a real hobby of mine. Everything I build has a purpose and adds value to our property in some way, so I guess I save unless I have something I need to spend it on.

Did anyone teach you about money?

I always had a pretty good sense of what it was worth growing up because mum and dad were such hard workers. They worked tirelessly to give us kids a better life and a whole raft of opportunities growing up. We never had flash things or went on extravagant holidays, but we always had everything we needed. It was more of a ‘show than tell’ life lesson from my parents and I am so grateful because a good work ethic is one of the greatest gifts they could have given me.

What money-related advice would you give your children?

Everything has to be earnt and nothing is free in life. Being on a farm we are lucky in that there is always work to do and ample opportunity for the kids to make some pocket money. They could rear a few calves or do a milking or two. If they earn the money themselves, they will appreciate it a lot more than if I just gave it to them.


Story by Kathryn Webster for the Autumn 2024 issue of AA Directions Magazine. Kathryn is the Editor of AA Directions.

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