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Episode 12: Her Father's Daughter

On the next episode screening May 3rd 2014 at 7pm on TV ONE

Her Father's Daughter

When Jacquetta Ward's father, Derrick, died suddenly of a heart attack her career took a dramatic turn.

She was working in the office of the Premier of New South Wales when she got the news.

"I came back and said to the family that I would be prepared to look after the farm for the next two weeks," she says.

"I loved being in New Zealand so I went back to Sydney, packed up my things and said I'd do it till the end of the year - but the end of the year has now been 12 years, so obviously I enjoy it!"

The Wards' farm, where Jacquetta and her three sisters grew up, is in the Pohangina Valley near Ashhurst in Manawatu.

It has both hill country and river flats and Jacquetta runs deer, which she farms for meat, sheep and young bulls which are fattened on crops and sold a year later.

"It was a challenge at the start," she says. "We later heard that people put bets on how long we'd last and it was a bit like McLeod's Daughters because two of my sisters came home and helped out at the weekends.

"But it was where we'd been brought up and we wanted to stay and do a good job."

As a child, Jacquetta had spent a lot of time on the farm with her father. She knew something of the manual, day to day tasks, but had to call on neighbours to help out.

Quite a lot of the advice and guidance came from the local Lions Club, which her father had been a member of.

"A lot of them have been extremely helpful, after Dad passed away and even to this day. They're sort of like honorary fathers."

Each January, Jacquetta and her mother Jane repay that support by volunteering at the annual Smallholders Sale, a fundraiser organised by the Ashhurst Pohangina Lions Club.

The event started 33 years ago as a place for people to sell and buy small numbers of stock. It's grown steadily over the years and now attracts thousands who come big distances to trade everything from rats, rabbits and donkeys to furniture, farm equipment and knick-knacks.

Jacquetta has helped computerise the auction and Jane works on the EFTPOS machine, taking money from happy punters.

"People call it the Smallholders Sale," says Stuart Davison, one of Jacquetta's honorary fathers who oversees the sheep pens," but it's actually the crazy sale."

Jacquetta does most of the stock work on the farm on her own although Jane takes time out from her job in town when help is needed.

"We have a pretty good partnership," says Jane. "I worked closely with Jacquetta at the start but these days she can turn her hand to most of the jobs in farming life. I guess I am more the strategic manager and keep things on that side flowing. Together we've managed a pretty good ship."

Jacquetta says she gets a bit of a fright when she looks in her wardrobe and sees the suits she used to wear in Sydney, but she has no regrets.

"I sometimes think I had it easy in Sydney because there is a little bit more on the line when you are doing it yourself, you have to pay a bit more attention.

"That was a time of my life that I thoroughly enjoyed but I enjoy this equally as much. I hope to stay here as long as possible - I really enjoy it and I hope that we have made Dad proud."

To contact Jacquetta Ward, email:

To find out more about Rural Women New Zealand, visit:

To find out more about the Pohangina Valley, visit:

To find out more about produce from Pohangina Valley, visit:

Frank Torley

Richard Williams

Aerial photography vehicle
Tim Whittaker

Field sound
Don Paulin

Mike Townsend

Colour grader
Alex Wright

Sound mixer
Ian Leslie

Post production manager
Bailey Palmer

Production manager
Robyn Best

Vivienne Jeffs

Network executive
Jude Callen

Associate producer
Dan Henry

Katherine Edmond

Julian O'Brien