Our people

Frequently the unsung heroes of a good dairy season, artificial breeding technicians (AB Techs) typically prefer to fly under-the-radar.

Generally humble by nature, many of these LIC staff display the kind of community spirit and entrepreneurial flair for which New Zealanders are renown.

It’s for that reason LIC is profiling AB Techs this season. We feel it’s time AB Techs’ contributions to dairying, and indeed to the wider communities in which they live, were justifiably celebrated.

They’ll see their farming clients each day for a period of up to three months during the spring or autumn mating period, but what do AB Techs do during the rest of the year?

As you’ll see, there’s more than meets the eye among many of these people - people who LIC colleagues and farmers alike both rely on, and trust.

More than 900 AB Techs are employed by LIC.

Here, we take a closer look at some of these people.

And if you fancy joining this awesome team of people, and LIC as an AB Tech, applications are now open.

Theunis has been doing AB Tech runs for more than 50 years, working in tandem with wife Lorraine for the most-recent 30 years. Although their AB routes have traditionally covered farms between Morrinsville and Matamata, it was in the 1990s that the couple hitched a caravan to their car for a road trip to Southland: “For about a decade or so we’d first do the mating season here in the Waikato, before heading down to Winton to help out with mating down that way – there was a camping ground at the Winton Golf Course, so that’s where we’d stay,” says Theunis.

In his spare time Theunis is a fly-fishing guide and Fish & Game ranger, which complements his role as president of a Turangi trout fishing competition.

A true community man, Theunis is also chair of Matamata’s charity-driven op-shop. Both Theunis and Lorraine are top national indoor bowls players, with Theunis coaching and preparing aspiring young bowlers for competition.

Theunis AB tech

Steve’s been an LIC AB Technician for about the past decade. His work is full of seasonal variation; he’s raised calves on behalf of a large local farm operation, covers as a local relief-milker, and chips-in for a farm contractor during the dry summer months.

In the New Zealand winter, Steve’s also been known to fly to Ireland to work as an AB Tech, before returning to Opunake in time for the local spring mating season.

In his spare time, Steve enjoys a beer with his local ‘handle-club’. He’s also in to board-surfing, fishing, and cray-potting. “If the wind and tide is right, I’ll shoot out in the dinghy to pick up the cray pots before starting my morning’s AB-run.”

Steve Rolfe AB Tech

From the Matahi Valley at the northern edge of the Ureweras, AB Tech Waira Hutching starts his daily farm visits in a rather unique, but classic, truly-local, way: “When it floods I have to catch and ride my horse so I can cross the river to get to my vehicle.”

Waira is the local delegate for his marae, Whakarae, which is part of the Te Whakatane hapu and Ngai Tuhoe iwi. He’s a local search and rescue volunteerand has been a pest control contractor for the past decade, trapping possums. He’s also a passionate pig and deer hunter.

Before plying his trade as an AB Tech, Waira’s only contact with the dairy industry was when he was a kid, but it was as grass-roots as one could get: “When I was at primary school living at my grandmother’s, I used to milk the three cows we had on the land – I’d do them by hand.”

Waira Re Hutching AB Tech

Mum-of-four Sharn has covered plenty of north/coastal Taranaki farms since becoming a fully-qualified AB Tech several years ago.

The seasonal work helps fund the health science degree (Massey) she’s studying toward. “I love AB Tech work – there’s a knack to it in terms of getting the inseminator in the correct spot. It’s quite an art.” And Sharn knows her art. In her spare time she likes to paint, as well as “build stuff – the kids’ playground, tables, chairs, coffee tables, storage boxes. And I like to sing.”

Sharn is also involved in a Waitara community group that helps locals free themselves from drug dependency. “It’s good to see people change for the better, to give stuff up, and to take on new things; it’s good to see people with past dependency get renewed hope; you get a real buzz from seeing that.

Sharn Minhinnick AB Tech

Having grown up on a Southland dairy farm, Reece had witnessed his Mum artificially inseminate cows – “from then, I guess I just had a natural curiosity through life.”

Reece qualified in his mid-30s as an AB Tech, and began servicing farms around Murchison (where, until 2017, he ran his own farm). Then a change in lifestyle brought him north to Collingwood. “My wife Renee and I had one of those moments in life, and suddenly wanted to be beside the sea. So we ended up buying the local pub, Tinky’s Tavern.”

Reece still has a deep affection for dairying and his AB Tech work allows him to stay in touch with both the industry and farmers. He’s also a qualified engineer, so contracts to farms throughout the area to fix farm machinery and equipment: They’re frequently the very same customers he services as an AB Tech, and the very same customers who drink at his pub!

Reece Swan AB Tech

Train to be an AB tech with us

If you are passionate about dairy farming, we'd love to have you join our team.

Apply on our careers website

Train to be an AB tech with us

If you are passionate about dairy farming, we'd love to have you join our team.

Apply on our careers website