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Andrew the Ninja and ‘She’ll be right…’

John Sparrow

Andrew the Ninja and ‘She’ll be right…’

by John Sparrow, Federated Farmers Territory Manager

Years ago, I arrived in New Zealand from a large dry stock farm in one of the hottest parts of southern Africa. The daily struggles on a farm in Africa included continuous drought, animal predation, disease and cattle rustling. So I felt I was tough enough to work in the Kiwi agricultural industry.

I quickly learned there were different farming challenges here – not least New Zealand’s famous ‘four seasons in one day’. Otago and Southland farmers well know how cold it can get. I was yet to find out.

A few days after arriving, I was sent to assist on a large Rangataiki farm. Being mid-winter, I put on my thickest jersey and off I went, gloveless, and no jacket or boots. I arrived to horizontal sleet, a wind that nearly blew me off my feet, and a landscape devoid of any fellow human.

In the distance I saw a motorcycle. When it finally got to me it was ridden by a Ninja. Yes! The being controlling the bike was wearing black, special boots and a balaclava that hid his face except for one teary eye. He pulled a glove off, stuck his hand out and said, “my name is Andrew”. So, my Ninja had a name…. I replied with “Good day, my name is John, it’s quite cold today isn’t it?” He looked at my blue face, purple hands and shivering chin and said “Yip, but she’ll be right”.

I worked with Andrew for many months, through calving, and found he was a man of few words. The struggles we experienced together that winter were eye openers for me. When we had completed a job or were battling to solve a problem Andrew always said “she’ll be right”.

What Andrew taught me was tenacity. Nothing seemed to be too hard. He had a plan. He was able to fix anything that went wrong on the farm. A smart, tough bugger he was!

Over the last few years, still working with farmers, I have met hundreds of “Andrews” and I have come to realize that Andrew was the epitome of a Kiwi farmer. There are no doubt plenty of Andrews all over Southland and Otago.

Throw adversity at a Kiwi farmer and often he will put his head down, mutter “she’ll be right” and get stuck in. Weather, adverse events, and ever-changing policies and regulations are over and above all the other hardships they front up to.

Sometimes we come across something that we cannot fix ourselves. Those times when it’s hard to find the “she’ll be right” attitude and to drag your butt out of bed and put the Ninja suit on. That’s the time to speak to family or your mate and perhaps a call to Federated Farmers or RST.  You will find someone who will listen and be able to help. I know, I have been there.

Thankfully, I have my own Ninja suit now and I have had to have quite a few cups of cement to “harden up”. I can proudly claim I may be a Ninja myself, one day…

We will come through this COVID monster, knowing that farmers are the champions of the New Zealand economy. I hope the nay-sayers realise this.

As an outsider looking in at New Zealand agriculture, I know “she’ll be alright” despite the adversity it currently faces. Why do I say this? Because it is driven by a bunch of tough, smart, and hardworking good buggers.

Here’s to all the Andrews - thanks for your commitment to rural New Zealand.