Doyen of Rongotea

23/12/2020
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Jean Duran, generally regarded as the doyen of the Rongotea Saleyards, will step down from her office role after the last NZ Farmers Livestock sale of 2020.

Doyen of Rongotea Saleyards Steps Down

Jean Duran, generally regarded as the doyen of the Rongotea Saleyards, will step down from her office role after the last NZ Farmers Livestock sale of 2020. Hers has been the familiar face – and voice – in the office at the saleyards since 1991.

“I grew up in England and emigrated to New Zealand with my husband and daughter in 1974,” Jean said. “I’d always done data entry but never envisaged that I would one day be familiar with all the terms and practices of the livestock industry,” Jean said.

Jean’s foray to New Zealand agriculture was with FCDC (Farmers Cooperative Distribution Co) where she was based in the Feilding office doing data entry and, eventually, accounts.

“In those days FCDC was one of the largest companies in Feilding providing a wide range of services to the farming community. Farmers were able to charge-up such things as staff wages, groceries, insurance and whiteware to their wool cheques or stock proceeds.

“The building where I was based is now a video store and icecream parlour with apartments upstairs but in those days it was a focal point for farmers albeit mainly by telephone and mail.”

Jean continued to work with FCDC as it transitioned through several mergers before her role was made redundant in 1990.

“I had a break from work of around six months and in September 1991 was offered the role of data entry at the NZ Farmers Livestock owned Rongotea Saleyards.

“This was a real change of culture – moving from the office where contact with farmers was remote, to getting to know people in person - putting faces to names.”

Jean Duran says no two days at the saleyards are the same.

“I love the variety. I’ve always got agents and farmers calling in. It’s like a big family. We’re all here doing the same thing really – working together to keep the business of farming humming.”

Looking back, Jean says paperwork is the biggest thing which has changed over the years.

“We’d never heard of identity fraud in the old days – clients could simply buy stock without an account and we’d just send an invoice. But that all changed over the years, and clients are now required to verify their identity.

“Animal health regulations, like NAIT, have also introduced a level of compliance which has added to the ‘paperwork’ which accompanies every animal that is purchased or sold at the yards.”

Her time in the industry means she is currently working with an agent who is the son of an agent she worked with many years ago – “and our youngest agent wasn’t born when I started here.”

Jean’s last day at the Rongotea Saleyards will be at the final sale of the year on 23 December.

"I will miss it – the people and the environment – but I’m looking forward to retirement; reading, gardening, grandchildren – and I can always pop back to catchup with old mates.”