Local man Phil Weir has been awarded one of five Nuffield Scholarships that are given out each year to individuals in the farming industry who are expected to assume positions of greater influence in their field in the future.

Living on the slopes of Mt Pirongia, Phil is active in farming his co-owned 240ha drystock property with his wife Megan and three children Henry, 5, Freya, 3, and Margot, 1.

He also works as an Agribusiness consultant with AgFirst (Waikato) where he focuses on helping a range of clients consider land use diversification from an economic, systems and succession perspective.

Phil completed the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme in 2016 and has recently become a member of the Beef + Lamb Mid Northern North Island Farmer Council where he is upbeat about the opportunities for this sector.


Before farming, Phil travelled extensively and has a diverse background.

He has worked in Environmental Science across Australasia, held senior roles with AgResearch in commercialisation and business development and completed a Master of Marine Management at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada.

As a Nuffield scholar, Phil wants to identify and understand the barriers in the primary industry that restrict collaboration and to understand what impactful agricultural industry representation looks like in 2020.

"Ultimately, I believe in the value of high-quality collaboration, but often see structures and behaviour which restrict it," said Phil.

"For my research project, I want to understand what restricts collaboration in New Zealand's primary industries and, through analysis of non-agricultural systems abroad, look at how collaboration in New Zealand's primary industries can be enhanced to improve industry representation."

Nuffield Farming Scholarships have been offered to innovative New Zealand farmers since 1950.

It is a 12 month programme worth $40k and involves 18 weeks abroad.

First up for Phil is the Contemporary Scholars Conference, an eight day conference to be held in Brisbane which covers leadership and global agricultural themes with panel discussions and field trips.


Secondly is a six week tour that covers several countries looking at social, cultural, political and agricultural contexts, practices, strengths and challenges.

Phil will be going to Singapore, the Philippines, China, Denmark, United Kingdom and the United States in a group of 10 (scholars from other nationalities).

"The trip aims to open my eyes to the different way agriculture is carried out globally and to gain a greater understanding for consumer drivers and politics that sit behind the agri-food system," said Phil.

Taking 8-10 weeks, the third part involves individual study and travel and scholars will research an area of personal interest.

This can be undertaken anywhere in the world that is relevant to the topic and participants have access to the international leaders in agriculture and food industries.
Phil's research is going to focus on collaboration between the different farming sectors (sheep, beef, dairy, forestry, horticulture).

He has a strong interest in the structure of organisations and how this affects collaboration.

Phil is interested in understanding how farmer advocacy and representation works in other countries. He also expects to look to areas outside of agriculture.

The scholarships were first established in the UK by Lord Nuffield to create an opportunity for farmers to explore best agricultural practice around the world and facilitate innovation in the sector through travel and networking.

The programme has since grown both in New Zealand and internationally, building up a 150-strong network of scholars nationally and more than 1600 alumni internationally.
For more information go to ruralleaders.co.nz/nuffield-home/