New Year honours for dairy, beef and wine leaders

John Luxton on his farm in the Waikato.

John Luxton on his farm in the Waikato.

Former National Cabinet minister John Luxton has been honoured with a Companion of the Order of New Zealand (CNZM) for his services to the dairy industry.

"This award is a recognition of the importance of the dairy industry, which is very innovative and responsible for earning nearly half New Zealand's primary sector exports," he said. 

A National Party MP from 1987 to 2002, Luxton held numerous Cabinet portfolios including Agriculture, Housing and Commerce.

He oversaw the development of industry-good body DairyNZ, stepping down as chairman of the board last year, having held the position since 2008.

He played a key role in a number of significant policy and legislative changes in New Zealand, including the foundation policy work that led to the formation of Fonterra and the deregulation of producer boards.

Luxton is a former chairman of the Tatua Co-op and a founder of Open Country Dairies and Kaimai Cheese companies. He is co-chairman of the Waikato River Authority, chairman of the Asia New Zealand Foundation and Hauraki Iwi-owned Pouarua Farm Partnership.

"I bought my first dairy farm in the Waikato and I still go up there from Wellington about once a week. My son now farms it," Luxton, 70, said.


A keen rider, Justine Kidd with her dressage horse at home in Central Hawke's Bay.

A keen rider, Justine Kidd with her dressage horse at home in Central Hawke's Bay.

Takapau-based Justine Kidd received an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for her work in both the dairy industry and equestrian sports.

A successful entrepreneur, farmer, sports administrator and consultant, Kidd has chaired the Dairy Women's Network and was named 2013 Dairy Woman of the Year.

As CEO of BEL Group Dairy Farming, milking 9500 cows and employing 65 people, she led through the upheaval of an owner's death to establish it as a successful family-owned corporately structured farm business.

"I have never been one to shy away from a challenge, " she told Fairfax Media recently.

"My style has always been to get in and get it done. The best thing anyone can do is give their all and take every opportunity no matter how big or small."

In 2004 she was manager for the New Zealand equestrian team at the Olympic Games, and was appointed CEO of Equestrian Sports New Zealand from 2004 to 2007.            


Laurie Paterson, right, with his son Ross.

Laurie Paterson, right, with his son Ross.

Gore farmer Laurie Paterson has been honoured with an ONZM for services to the beef industry.

Laurie and his wife Sharon, along with their son Ross and his wife Steph, farm one of New Zealand's leading hereford studs - the Waikaka stud. They have about 200 stud hereford cows and currently supply bulls to their commercial beef clients and the dairy industry.

Paterson said it was a "surprise" to have heard he received the award.

"It's about the people I've worked with as much as anything. I've been lucky to have worked with outstanding people."

Still an active working farmer, 66-year-old Paterson was a director of the New Zealand Hereford Association from 1991 to 2010 and president from 1997 to 1999.

In the 1980s he introduced the BREEDPLAN genetic evaluation software, which calculates estimated breeding values, to hereford breeders which eventually led to its use for other breeds in New Zealand and the combining of New Zealand data with Australia for trans-Tasman genetic evaluations.

Paterson was pivotal in the establishment and development of Hereford Prime, the first branded quality beef programme in New Zealand which has been a catalyst for other breed beef brands to be established around the country.


Riversun Nurseries managing director Geoff Thorpe.

Riversun Nurseries managing director Geoff Thorpe.

Gisborne grapevine nursery owner Geoff Thorpe has been honoured with an ONZM award for his services to the wine industry.

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Thorpe, 60, said he was "gobsmacked" by the recognition. He found his "passion" in 1982 when he set up Riversun Nursery, the largest in the country serving the wine industry.

In 1999 he established Linnaeus Laboratory to provide the vine nursery industry with an accredited virus testing service and a year later he launched New Zealand's first independently audited grapevine certification programme.

He played an instrumental role in co-establishing the New Zealand Winegrowers Grafted Grapevine Standard, adopted by all grapevine nurseries by 2012. Since 1995 his company has been a major sponsor of the wine industries annual Romeo Bragato Conference.

Thorpe said Gisborne was an ideal place for the business because its growing season was longer than others, it had unique volcanic soils and "amazing" local staff. 

 - Stuff


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