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Rob Gollan – Director

Land Based Training Limited has been managed by Rob Gollan since it was formed in 1996.

Rob has an enormous history in agricultural starting out at Lincoln University and receiving a Bachelor of Agricultural Science. Since then he has worked for MAF and then in 1987 formed his own Farm Consultancy Company in Whanganui. Rob Gollan Farm Consultancy employs five staff, three of which are involved with the administration for Land Based Training Ltd.

Rob contributes his time and experience in farming to the trainees with classroom and on farm visits. He also uses his years of Management experience and strong relationships with his staff to continue moving Land Based Training forward.

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Jeremy Higgie – Director

A former Field Officer, Jeremy Higgie is also the Director of the company.

Jeremy purchased his family sheep / beef farm of 1250 acres in 1987. Since then he has been in the agricultural training industry with courses such as R.E.A.P in conjunction with his own farm.

Jeremy also founded and became Director of Ag Challenge, which is another Agricultural Training Institute here in Whanganui.

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Hamish Davidson – General Manager

Hamish is Canterbury born, raised in the Manawatu and has an affinity with agriculture that led to a distinguished dairying career all over Aotearoa.  He has been involved in the education sector for many years and brings excellent leadership to the Land Based Training team.

Hamish lives in Whanganui with his wife and teenage sons.  As a family they enjoy mountain biking and generally being active and in the outdoors.

Katrina Langdon

Katrina Langdon – Academic and Compliance Manager

Katrina brings extensive knowledge of the tertiary education sector and has spent 25 years involved in many areas of the education sector. Having worked in a range of roles as a teacher, lecturer, academic manager, project manager, quality director and programme developer she brings a wide range of focussed experience and energy to the role.

She has a particular interest in cultural diversity and accessibility, as well as spending significant time working with Iwi/Hapu and marae-based programmes, international students, impairment affected learners and (quite recently) with Aboriginal Corporations in remote areas of Australia.

Katrina lives in Whanganui and is actively involved with the local creative community and (outside of work) maintains a personal art practice.

Donna Nicholson

Donna Nicholson – Operations Manager

Donna has been in the education space for over 20 years. Starting her career as a tutor she has had the growth and experience in all aspects of adult education including working in training environments within the prisons to higher level international diplomas.

In 2019 Donna worked in a Quality Assurance and train the trainer role in Rarotonga which was an excellent opportunity to see and breath the international training deliverables. She has recently moved over from Hawkes Bay where she was working as Academic Director in the Māori Performing Arts Tertiary space to join our head office team in Whanganui. She is loving the arts and coffee vibe of Whanganui and looking forward to making connections to support her passions!

When not at work she can be seen painting or creating rustic sculptures, upcycling old buildings and trout fishing.


Becks Vaivela – Operational Support Manager

Becks has been in the education sector for 25 years, with her focus being on Adult and Tertiary learning for the last 10. She has extensive experience in Teaching and Facilitation, Educational Leadership, Operational Management and delivering Professional Development in a wide variety of communities.

Becks is passionate about working alongside tangata whenua, in honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi and supporting a healthy relationship with education. She is also invested in building strong connections with the Pasifika community, which she is an active part of, and empowering this community with possibilities.

When she is not working she is spending time outdoors and fishing with her husband and two beautiful boys.

John McNaughton

John McNaughton – Operations Lead (Northland)

Born and raised in Tauranga, John spent 28 years in the Dairy industry in Waikato before moving to Northland in 2017. Taking an opportunity to work with Taratahi in the mid 2010’s, John became involved in the training of students in the Agriculture space.

An interest in Horticulture led to working with an Avocado orchard in the Whangarei area where he developed the orchards irrigation, pest control, and pollination practises to ensure high rates of production.

John joined Land Based Training in 2021 where he has been instrumental in improving the outcomes for students in Northland who are keen on developing both their practical skills and theoretical knowledge in the primary industry.

John spends his spare time managing his lifestyle block with a mixture of livestock and fruit trees specifically Avocados and Macadamias, and has recently taken up Beekeeping. It is only a matter of time before John’s honey roasted macadamia nuts become world famous..

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Derek Priest – Head of School (Agriculture)

Derek joined Land based Training at its inception in 1996. After working for MAF, up the Waitotara Valley as a shepherd general and farm owner on the Parapara hills, he focused his passion for livestock farming to future farmers. Derek presently tutors level 3, 4 and 5 programs at the Otiwhiti Land Based Training Agricultural Facility inland from Hunterville. He has also been involved with agricultural training in both the Sichuan Province in China and Botswana.

Time out for him is on a 4 ha block at Fordell Whanganui where he enjoys trying new farming ideas and farming a handful of sheep and cattle.