Wednesday, 03 July 2024 08:56

Primary sector's cream of the crop

Written by  Staff Reporters
Julian Raine, an innovator and entrepreneur in horticulture and dairy, took out the 'Outstanding Contribution' award. Julian Raine, an innovator and entrepreneur in horticulture and dairy, took out the 'Outstanding Contribution' award.

A hero of Cyclone Gabrielle recovery efforts, an app that opens up a world of farming knowledge, and a professor with a passion for the environment are among those honoured by their primary sector peers.

The sixth annual Primary Industries New Zealand Awards were presented at Wellington’s Tākina Convention Centre on Tuesday night, with winners across nine categories announced.

The ‘Rural Hero of the Year’ is Alastair Macgregor, a retired farmer who demonstrated his practical skills to great effect with the Farmy Army, helping Hawke’s Bay landowners slammed by last year’s cyclone. Away from his home four or five days at a time and staying in a school camp, he put in well over 200 hours helping restore fences in Tutira and Waipukurau.

Julian Raine, an innovator and entrepreneur in horticulture and dairy, took out the ‘Outstanding Contribution’ award. His leadership in the primary industry and commitment to giving back, both nationally and in his Nelson community, including involvement in the Waimea Community Dam project, spans three decades.

The primary industries ‘Champion’ is the late Dr Warren Parker. Parker’s outstanding academic career, including 18 years as professor of Agribusiness and Resource Management at Massey University, included involvement at the highest levels of primary sector governance. The former chair of Pamu, he had a passion for leaving the environment better for future generations, and sharing his wisdom and knowledge as a mentor.

The Farm 4 Life Hub, a dairy education platform with over 4000 people using the app to learn from 1200 on-demand videos in the tutorial library, won the ‘Innovation and Technology’ award. Its operators’ ethos is bringing knowledge to anyone, anywhere, anytime who has the mindset and willingness to learn.

The 300ha dairy farm of Jane and Damian Roper at Alton in South Taranaki is living proof that dairy farming and biodiversity can exist side by side. The Ropers, who have 20 years’ environmental leadership in their community, are winners of the Guardianship and Conservation (Kaitiakitanga) Award. Their successful farming business funds their passion for the environment - retiring land for native biodiversity habitat, restoring Lake Ohurai, and leadership on community projects to bring back kiwi to the Tarere Conservation Park.

The PINZ 2024 ‘Emerging Leader’ packs a lot into her day. A mortgage advisor who supports rural people into their first home, Claire Williamson founded and is the main force behind Velma & Beverley (V&B), creators of bespoke, made-in-Aotearoa jackets using 100% New Zealand wool. Claire serves as a board member for Rural Women NZ and runs a range of initiatives to support women to lead fulfilling rural lives.

New Zealand Ethical Employers (NZEE), led by Tanya Pouwhare, is the winner of the ‘Team and Collaboration’ award. Founded in 2020, NZEE aims to enhance employment conditions across all workplaces in New Zealand’s primary industries. A voluntary member-based organisation with a board and core team of three, NZEE now has over 50 company members who collectively employ over 36,000 staff.

The judges of the 2024 ‘Food, Beverage and Fibre Producer’ award were impressed by Southern Pastures/Lewis Road Creamery’s focus on refining on-farm efficiencies, improving livestock outcomes, and mitigating environmental impact. They now operate 20 farms, with premium products in most supermarkets and a market presence in the USA, achieving notable sales growth and international awards. Their innovative practices include introducing 350 tonnes of earthworms and dung beetles to improve farm outcomes and soil health.

The ESR Groundwater Team and DairyNZ took out the ‘Science & Research’ award. The judges were impressed by ESR's simple, scientifically based approach to addressing nitrates in waterways. Their denitrification bioreactor solution using woodchips showed promising results, removing half a tonne of nitrogen per year at a pilot site, demonstrating large-scale potential to clean water on farms, that farmers can easily implement.

The 2024 Primary Industries Awards Winners

Emerging Leader Award

Claire Williamson, Velma & Beverley

Sponsored by: Lincoln University

Outstanding Contribution to Primary Industries Award

Julian Raine, Dairy & Horticulture Farmer/Grower

Sponsored by: AgResearch

Science & Research Award

ESR Groundwater Team and DairyNZ

Sponsored by: Beef+Lamb

Technology Innovation Award

John Schol, Farm 4 Life HUB

Sponsored by: AsureQuality

Food, Beverage & Fibre Producer Award

Southern Pastures/Lewis Road Creamery

Sponsored by: Kotahi.

Guardianship & Conservation Award (Kaitiakitanga Award)

Jane & Damian Roper, Farm Owners

Sponsored by: Rabobank

Team & Collaboration Award

Tanya Pouwhare, New Zealand Ethical Employers

Sponsored by: BASF

Rural Hero of the Year

Alastair Macgregor, Farmy Army

Sponsored by: Overseer

Champion Award

Dr. Warren Parker (Posthumous), Pāmu Farms of New Zealand.

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