Farming on the far side of the world

Learner Stories

When Matias Cassineri and Maria Beatriz (Beti) Spaccarotelli arrived in New Zealand from Argentina, they began a journey.

This led to them becoming operators of a successful sharemilking business, located at the very bottom of the South Island.

This amazing couple achieved extremely well in the dairy industry, in their work as lower-order sharemilkers on a farm in the far south, near Riverton.

ELP student Maria holding calf

They knew little about New Zealand before they arrived, apart from hearing about its beauty and a team called the ‘All Blacks’. Moreover, they knew practically nothing about dairy farming in New Zealand and had extremely limited English-speaking skills.

Matias, a qualified vet, and Beti, who has a degree in social communication, had travelled through parts of Europe as university graduates, but not to the antipodes. However, friends from their home country had told them of the life they were living here in New Zealand and enticed them to Southland.

Their introduction to dairying, could best be described as a baptism of fire, starting work in spring – the hardest time of the year to start work on a dairy farm. With the intensity of calving and then mating, they barely had time to catch their breath.

Both Beti and Matias found it hard to make long-term friends in the farming sector, as friends often move on to another area as they progress through the dairy industry.

At times, not only cultural differences, but communication with other farm employees and management was frustrating. Occasionally they felt they were trying to convince people that they were neither ignorant nor deaf but desperately needed to learn how to communicate in English!

Beti says that after three years of struggling on farms as employees, she crossed paths with Nalini Varghese, manager of English Language Partners Southland.

This, she claims, became the turning point for them.

Nalini introduced Beti to Beth Miller who became her tutor and friend. Through their lessons, Beth taught her to communicate well, spending time introducing Beti to Invercargill city.

Beti has embraced country life and rears the calves on the farm as well doing the book work. She finds it difficult to put the bobby calves out for pick up as she dotes on them and thoroughly enjoys raising the replacement stock.

She is passionate and grateful  for the help that she received from English Language Partners.

Beti’s experience is an example of the way in which English Language Partners have touched the lives of immigrants all over New Zealand. Receiving language help and friendship has empowered her to build a new life for her family here.

The support has also inspired this enterprising couple to extend a helping hand to newcomers and make settlement an easier process for others than it had been for them.

From language learners to enlightened employers – an amazing achievement indeed.


Writer: Paddy-Ann Pemberton



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