27 June 2011
Southland farmers Grant and Bernadette Weller are the first holders of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy after being named National winners of the 2011 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.
Their win was announced at the New Zealand Farm Environment Award (NZFEA) Trust’s Sustainability Showcase in Hastings on June 25.
NZFEA chairman Jim Cotman says the announcement was greeted with thunderous applause from around 300 guests who attended the gala function.
Mr Cotman says the Wellers, who farm an 890ha (850ha effective) sheep and beef farm in the Waimea Valley, were clearly thrilled with their win.
They were chosen from the nine regional Supreme winners of the 2011 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.
This is the first time a national winner has been named in the competition. Mr Cotman says the initiative has captured an enormous amount of interest, much to the delight of competition supporters.
“In a recent interview our Prime Minister John Key said that New Zealanders need to have goals to aspire to and that we need to celebrate success.
“The winners of the inaugural Gordon Stephenson Trophy will provide farmers with a sense of pride, achievement and inspiration.”
Mr Cotman says the Wellers will be great ambassadors for New Zealand agriculture.
“They are successful business people and strong communicators who will be able to effectively convey their sustainable farming beliefs and actions to a wide audience within New Zealand and beyond.”
Lead judge of the National Winner title was Professor Jacqueline Rowarth, Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University, along with Warwick Catto, head of Research and Environment, Ballance Agri-Nutrients, Alistair Polson, Agriculture Trade Envoy, and Todd Charteris, East Coast regional manager, Rabobank New Zealand Ltd. Interviews were chaired by Greg Glover, deputy chair of the NZFEA Trust.
The Gordon Stephenson Trophy will be presented annually at the Sustainability Showcase – an event that salutes people who are farming in a manner that is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.
Mr Cotman says the showcase provides an example of “our unique NZ brand”, reinforcing the importance of producing quality food, “based on good practice ethics and the ongoing stewardship of the land”.
He says the Ballance Farm Environment Awards continue to build momentum.
“The Trust is extremely grateful for the ongoing support of the naming-right sponsor of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, Ballance Agri-Nutrients, along with the host of sponsors and partners and Trust national partners who help make the Awards the success they are.
“These agribusinesses understand and support the sustainability journey New Zealand farmers are on, and recognise the positive impact this has for the New Zealand economy and New Zealand’s overall wellbeing.”
The Gordon Stephenson Trophy is named after the Waotu farmer who started the Farm Environment Awards.
For more information on the New Zealand Farm Environment Award Trust or the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact David Natzke, General Manager, New Zealand Farm Environment Award Trust, phone 07 834 0400, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.