Depression guru Doug Avery recognised in Queen's Birthday honours

GERARD HUTCHING
Last updated 05:00 05/06/2017

Doug Avery conducts a resilient farmer road show.

Dr Lesley Rhodes has pioneered methods of detecting toxins which affect shellfish.
Deer industry leader James Guild has devoted more than 40 years to the sector.

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Marlborough farmer Doug Avery says his Queen's Birthday award of the Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) is recognition for the work he has put in to highlight mental health problems in the rural community.

Now largely retired from the day-to-day running of his farm, Avery, 62, devotes most of his energies to helping farmers develop resilience in the face of multiple challenges.

He was one of nine people whose rural sector efforts have been acknowledged in the honours.

Others are Cawthron Institute scientist Dr Lesley Rhodes, who becomes a Companion of the NZ Order of Merit for services to marine farming, and Wendy McGowan, honoured as an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit for work on behalf of rural women.

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The Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit has been awarded to James Guild (services to the deer industry), Rebecca Keoghan (services to business and the dairy industry), Peter MacGregor (services to Maori and agriculture), Ross Scarlett (services to local government and the dairy industry), and Nick Pyke (services to the arable industry). David Finlay receives a Queen's Service Medal for services to irrigation and sport.

Avery said his focus was now going into the building up of "emotional intelligence" among farmers and the wider rural sector.

"Mental health is a huge problem and we have a system that is swamped. I have just launched my first resilience video and it's received 10,000 hits overnight, it's a terrific response."

He described himself as a story teller and "a bit of a show pony" in relation to the farm, which is now in the hands of his son Fraser and two "competent" staff.

"It makes me feel good that I'm giving back by helping people. It's one of the most enriching things."

Avery has been the recipient of a number of awards including Landcorp Agricultural Communicator of the Year, 2013, New Zealand Land Care Trust Ambassador, 2012, Malborough Environment Award, 2011, Lincoln Foundation South Island Farmer of the Year, 2010, and Ministry for the Environment's Green Ribbon Award, 2008.

Rhodes, 70, has been a scientist with the Cawthron Institute in Nelson since 1985, whose work has revolutionised the management of marine algal blooms and biotoxins in shellfish internationally and ensured New Zealand's seafood exports meet international food safety standards.

New Zealanders have benefitted from her work in identifying biotoxins affecting shellfish and developing early warning systems. Every week waters around the country are tested for toxins and the public alerted to problems.

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She said she now works fewer hours but continues to study, focusing on the marine dinoflagellate Gambierdiscus which is moving into New Zealand waters from the tropics and could potentially affect snapper.

Canterbury deer farmer and tourism operator James Guild paid tribute to his family and especially his wife who had been "tolerant" when they had young children and he was away for long periods working on deer farm lobbying.  

During 40 year's service he has been a councillor and President of New Zealand Deer Farmers Association, Director of the Game Industry Board, Director of the Cervena Trust, inaugural Chair of Provelco Co-op Ltd, President of the New Zealand Association of Game Estates, and chaired the organising committee of first World Deer Congress.

Guild said he was proud of the work he had done on behalf of farmers during the 1980s when they had been hard hit by Rogernomics.

"We had people losing capital, there were suicides and a massive attrition in the sector."

He was later one of those instrumental in developing the Cervena brand for New Zealand venison. Latterly Guild has been chairman of the Queen Elizabeth II Trust for the last six years.

Bay of Plenty's Wendy McGowan was appointed national president of Rural Women NZ in 2013 after a three-year term as national vice-president, and before that the national councillor for Bay of Plenty/Coromandel for eight years, taking a special interest in land use issues, biosecurity and food safety.

She and her husband Rusty farm a 260ha dairy support unit in Kaharoa in the Bay of Plenty. She is also an enrolled nurse and works as a casual play specialist at Rotorua Hospital's Children's Unit.

Asked how she managed to fit in so many roles while being a mother to four, she said "you just do it, you find the time". Although no longer president on Rural Women NZ, she continues as treasurer for the local chapter.  

Rebecca Keoghan from Westport is Landcorp's business manager in the region, a Westland Milk Products director, OSPRI Northern South Island committee member and Keoghan Farm director with her husband Nathan.

The mother of two has overall responsibility for five large dairy farms, a dairy support farm and a machinery syndicate at Cape Foulwind and the Grey Valley. In 2016 she was awarded Dairy Women's Network Dairy Woman of the Year.

Peter  MacGregor from Hawke's Bay has been strategic manager, Māori and Tagata Pasifika for the Agriculture Industry Training Organisation from 2005 to 2012. He has initiated the Te Kuiti Māori Farm Managers diploma helped develop the Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer competition.

Ross Scarlett has been chairman of the West Coast Regional Council and Westland Milk Products, leading Westland Dairy through the introduction of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act.

Nick Pyke of Canterbury was appointed research director of the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) in 1995 and has helped the organisation improve on-farm performance and environmental management.

David Finlay served for 41 consecutive years on the committee of the Lower Waitaki Irrigation scheme and the board of the Lower Waitaki irrigation company, a scheme that irrigates more than 19,000 hectares of farmland.

- Stuff

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