Hight’s pioneering work began in the 1970s and continues today. Before he swapped farming for publishing, farming publications were largely public relations organs, subscription funded, for the agribusiness community and did not hold farmers’ interests as their priority.
He sought to rectify this by launching Farm Equipment News in 1974, sending it free to all farmers on rural delivery mail runs. The paper’s revenue came only from advertising.
Hight had to persuade the postmaster-general of the day to allow access to the rural mail delivery service, something that demanded many meetings in Wellington.
Farm Equipment News then quickly established a strong following among farmers and advertisers. Hight later launched Rural News and Dairy News, now leaders in their field.
The path he opened has since been trod by other agricultural publishers and the farming community is now one of the best-served business sectors in the country in respect of free news and technical information.
Others from the rural sector made Officers of the New Zealand Order of Merit include former Fonterra director Greg Gent, Morrinsville vet Ron Gibson and winemaker Clive Paton.
Gent was honoured for his services to the dairy industry and corporate governance, Gibson is credited with providing rural clinical experience for veterinary students and
Paton was honoured for services to viticulture and the environment.
Lindsay Galloway was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Chatham Islands agriculture. Also similarly honoured were rural health advocate Muriel Jensen for services to the community, James Millton for services to the wine industry; and Ross Corrigan for services to farming and the community.