A collaboration to reduce emissions and accelerate green hydrogen infrastructure, a company taking Kiwi honey to the world and an initiative to boost farmer mental wellbeing through surfing have been recognised by their primary industry peers.
Food and fibre sector achievers were recognised at the 2021 Primary Industries New Zealand Awards dinner at the Air Force Museum of New Zealand in Christchurch last night, with seven winners named from 65 nominations.
Stephen Thompson from Bayley's Rural Real Estate took out the Team Award for Surfing for Farmers.
Thompson started helping farmers get out on the ocean waves as a way to leave the stress of their busy roles behind them for a few hours.
Surfing for Farmers now boasted a team of 50 volunteers and had spread to 16 regions, with nearly 3000 farmers taking part.
"For most farmers it is their first time on a surf-board. Stephen says when farmers come out of the water, it's like a reset for them," judges noted.
The initiative was a favourite with many of the more than 500 farmers, growers, foresters and fishers present at the awards dinner.
The Innovation and Collaboration award went to Ballance Agri Nutrients and Hiringa Energy.
Their $65 million investment will see construction of four wind turbines nearly as tall as Auckland's Sky Tower.
This wind generation, together with hydrogen energy, will replace use of natural gas, to produce urea at Ballance's Kapuni site.
Judges noted that this would not only accelerate implementation of green hydrogen infrastructure in New Zealand, but use of low-emission fertiliser would help build on our reputation for producing low-emissions food.
It was a sweet night for the True Honey Company, which won the Primary Industries Producer Award.
True Honey had taken the highest grade New Zealand mānuka honey to the world's most exclusive markets, judges said.
"From having hives in dense mānuka serviced by helicopter, to world class processing for a quality-driven, highly discerning marketplace, the company has taken a natural New Zealand product to international recognition and acclaim."
Meanwhile, Malcolm Bailey, Frances Clement and Emma Boase were all recognised for their leadership.
Bailey won Outstanding Contribution to the Primary Industries, and was described by judges as "the complete package as a primary industry leader".
Bailey re-organised Federated Farmers from "a bunch of tribes to a single, effective voice," Feds said in a statement. He was also on the Fonterra Shareholder Council and on the Board of Fonterra.
Bailey was the Feds' special trade envoy over a period of international trade disruption and he currently chairs the Red Meat Profit Partnership and the NZ Dairy Companies Association.
NZ Pork's policy and issues manager Frances Clement took out the Primary Industries Champion award, to recognise a genuine "good bugger" who had championed their rural community and their industry.
"Frances stood out for her 25-year commitment to the New Zealand Pork Industry, making significant improvements across the board for our country's pig farmers and, as a result, New Zealand in general," judges said.
Horticulture New Zealand's Emma Boase won the Emerging Leaders award, particularly for her efforts attracting new talent to the sector.
The Science and Research award, went to Professor Jon Hickford, Dr Huitong Zhou and Freeman Fang.
The judges said they were most impressed with the holistic approach of the Lincoln University team to bring a highly professional genetic approach to the business of farming.
"Their genetic programme was impressive, as was their relationship with farmers. This guaranteed a practical result from a highly specialised scientific process."
In the Innovation and Collaboration category, judges gave special recognition for outstanding cultural collaboration to the Tōtara Industry Pilot - Scion.
This was a two-year feasibility project to test the business case for a new regional industry, based on the sustainable management of regenerating forests of Tōtara in Northland.