At the age of fifteen, Mathew Pooley left school to take up farming and ten years later he is now managing a farm owned by his iwi.
Ngāi Tahu Farms, based in Maungatere, has over 900 cows.
The Ahuwhenua Young Farmer finalist says, "I always had the passion for farming. My father was a sheep and beef farmer so I grew up farming. I was always on farms and just seeing [Dad's] passion for animals and livestock and looking after them".
Pooley knows great results come from putting in the hard yards.
"With dairy, it's seeing their performance. I always look at it as the more you put into them the more they'll give back to you".
Working for an iwi enterprise rather than a private contractor has its advantages for Māori farmers.
Pooley says, "I look at Ngāi Tahu Farming as the All Blacks of the dairy industry- we're sortof leading the way in doing all our practices the best we can. They're putting a lot of money, time and effort into looking after Te Whenua Hou".
Iwi support leads to strong leadership and managerial skills.
"Ngāi Tahu offer a lot of leadership courses. I did a leadership course last year which was just learning how to deal with different people and people's style of learning".
Pooley is one of three finalists in this year's Te Ahuwhenua Young Farmer of the Year awards and he's not hiding his excitement.
"I'm very humbled and very proud. It was cool, I kinda entered and have a fair bit of pressure up here coming from different people and different angles which is quite cool and to make it to the top three- i'm super proud".
The winner of the inaugural event will be announced this Friday night at the dinner function in Christchurch.