Former 'Ratbag' Keanu Taylor Turns Life Around, Taking Top Honours

30 Mar 2015

Many kiwis wouldn’t have picked the Black Caps to reach the Cricket World Cup final. Yet with determination the team have proven their critics wrong, reaching great heights and inspiring others to follow in their footsteps - just like Waiariki alumni, Keanu Taylor.

By his own admission, Keanu was a “ratbag” who used to “hang around with the wrong mates and do a lot of a dumb stuff”. However by becoming his own hero and not just taking but realising the opportunities offered to him by further study at Waiariki, Keanu has evolved.

Where the boy who used to break into the Whakatane campus once was, now stands the man recently honoured with the sole Chief Executive’s award at the Whakatane graduation ceremony for 2015.

“This is a big turnaround for me and it feels good” reveals Keanu. “Agriculture isn’t easy to learn, but you get it if you show up and attend class - and I was there every day, learning and listening.”

With his first post-Waiariki ambition of ‘getting a job’ firmly ticked off even prior to his graduation ceremony, Keanu relays with a smile, how everyone tells him how proud they are of the positive direction he has established for himself.

Standing on the Eastern Bay of Plenty farm on which he now works, it is his stance that belies his modest and humble perspective. His rightly confident and proud body language shows you that not just a 'smarter Keanu' has stepped forward into life, but a stronger one as well.

“My Koro and Nan had a lot to do with getting me into the Certificate in Agriculture and Farm Maintenance” he says in acknowledging the support of his family and tutor, Rachel Nash.

“Rachel is awesome. She always helped us out. She was always there for us and stuff, so yeah it was good being taught by her.”

“For Keanu this was the perfect job," says Rachel in response. "It came with a fully self-contained batch, he didn’t need a lot to start and he’s really well looked after by the owners of the farm.

“I now have people coming to me to whom I say ‘What prompted you to want to do Ag?’ and they say ‘We saw how well Keanu did’. He just doesn’t realise just how much he has impacted other people into wanting to transform themselves. Because they know where he has come from.

"He might have been a ‘ratbag’ when he was young, but everybody needs an opportunity to do better.”


“Many people congratulated me on the spotlight,” says Keanu, with an eventual 2.I.C. position now his goal. “Since then I have been busy working and learning. Calving season was a great experience, and I was given the responsibility of drafting cows for mating this year as well.”

Keanu’s employer, 50/50 sharemilker Rhys Watkins is wrapt with his progress. “I am really happy with Keanu and I’m glad that I’ve been able to see him grow in his job and the commitment he offers.”

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Page last updated: 02 May 2017