Kaitangata dairy farmer Stephen Korteweg thought the Federated Farmers Otago annual meeting in Alexandra on Friday night would be business as usual, but he was in for a surprise.

He was presented with Otago's Robbie Burnside Cup, which was an annual award given to the person the Otago executive committee felt had contributed significantly to the betterment of Otago farming.

Korteweg was stunned and pleased when president Simon Davies called him up to present him with the cup.

''I am really humbled by being awarded this,'' Korteweg said later.

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After seeing the calibre of others who had been awarded the cup, he felt honoured to be put in the same category.

''It is a real privilege,'' he said.

''Thank you to my peers for nominating me.''

Stephen Korteweg was presented with Federated Farmers Otago's Robbie Burnside Cup during the organisation's annual meeting in Alexandra on May 10. Photo / Yvonne O'Hara
Stephen Korteweg was presented with Federated Farmers Otago's Robbie Burnside Cup during the organisation's annual meeting in Alexandra on May 10. Photo / Yvonne O'Hara

He joins people such as 2010 winner Taieri dairy farmer Colin Scurr, Lochindorb farmer Peter McNabb in 2017 and scientist and researcher Jock Allison, 2018.

Korteweg's son Mathew and daughter-in-law Catherine Korteweg, of Kaitangata, are both on the executive committee and had to keep his nomination a secret.

''It was a bit nerve-wracking,'' Mrs Korteweg said.

''There was two versions of the nominations/voting email going around, with one version purely for Steve's benefit and the other version was the real one with him as a nominee.

''Every time an email got sent I was nervously checking the recipient list but we pulled it off.''

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Mathew Korteweg said his father had been a great role model for farmers for a long time so this was a great recognition for him.

''You can't ask for much more in a father,'' he said. ''He's been an approachable mentor to a lot of people over the years, so I know there'll be a lot of people pleased to see him win this award.''

Korteweg has been involved with Federated Farmers for nearly 40 years, first with the Kaitangata branch, and then on the executive and as president from 2013 to 2015.

''He has been involved in a variety of local and provincial farming issues,'' Davies said.

He became a member of the director of the Co-operative Dairy Company of Otago Ltd and the Otago Cheese Company in 1988, for nine years.

Korteweg also sat on the Rural Animal Health Centre board and when it was renamed TB Free, for 12 years.

He was also on the Clutha Development Trust for three years as well as on the Southern Dairy Hub board.

He is a Federated Farmers Otago Trust trustee.

One of his key involvements has been with discussions with the Otago Regional Council's water plans

''He worked tirelessly on the development of the unique approach to water quality adopted by the Otago Regional Council, in terms of an effects-based plan,'' Davies said.

''Unlike anywhere else in the country, Otago farmers have the potential to be completely in control of their own destiny with regard to water quality.

''That took a huge amount of time and effort and we don't realise how much time he put in to that.''

He and wife Rhonda entered industry competitions, winning the 2001 Kiwi Dairy Farmer of the Year, the Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards in 2009, and they were the supreme winners of the Dairy Business of the Year in 2013.

Korteweg said he was proud to accept the cup and said there were a lot of other people who also worked hard beside him to achieve the goals.

''If everybody does a bit, that makes the rural communities go round and makes things happen.''