Who am I?

A mother, wife, politician, lawyer, farmer and friend. Not necessarily in that order. But I am all of these things.

I am a Waipa girl born and bred, with the community at heart.  

I was brought up in a farming and political family at Rukuhia. I graduated from Otago University with Laws and Politics degrees.  Following some international travel after graduation, I settled briefly in Wellington working in the Beehive as a Ministerial Assistant before commencing my legal career as a litigation solicitor in Auckland.  I specialised in family law which I practiced both in Auckland and regionally in the Waikato.  

Despite a successful legal career which included establishing my own barristerial chambers in Te Awamutu, I found my way back to the land by marrying a farmer, John Hayward.  I chose to close my legal chambers in 2010 to focus on parenting and farming.  

Image: My dear Mum, Hon Katherine O’Regan MP and me on the occasion of my being sworn in as a Waipa District Councillor 

“I believe in doing things the right way. It’s important to listen, reflect, discuss (even if you disagree) and then communicate clearly. So many issues in life arise because of poor communication.”

Susan O’regan, Waipā mayoral candidate 2022

Together with John, we own and operate our 240-hectare dairy farm in Puahue.  Over the past 10 years we have transformed Judge Valley Dairies into a sustainable dairy operation focusing on maximising production while minimising the effects on the environment.  Our efforts were rewarded in 2016 by becoming the Waikato Supreme Winners of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards and were finalists in the Dairy Business of the Year awards that same year.

Riparian and wetland plantings on our farm Judge Valley Dairies

I have amassed a variety of governance experience in numerous roles in the past decade and I am  currently serving my second term on the Waipā District Council.  I am the Chairperson of the Strategic Planning and Policy Committee and relish the challenges Local Government faces in making our communities strong, connected and great places to live in.  I’ve written elsewhere about my vision, my leadership style, and my track record.

John and I have 5 children between us (ranging in age from 23 to 7 years) so my time management, sense of humour and multitasking skills are well developed – and tested. 

In my rare spare time I enjoy squash, reading, spending time with family and friends, politics and wine.

I am hard working, approachable, fair, honest and a very good listener. Humour is important to me – laughter reduces stress, opens the mind and helps me to connect with people.

Image: Lily, Jack and I at Mum’s Pou, Te Awamutu Walk of Fame