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Environment Champion Takes the Rudder

Media release
28 April 2006

for Immediate Release

Environment Champion Takes the Rudder

The New Zealand Farm Environment Trust’s newly appointed General Manager, David Natzke, has been an admirer of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards since they were conceived 15 years ago.

At that time he was working with Federated Farmers with which he had a 17 year association.

“I saw the awards established as the result of a dream of Gordon Stephenson, former Chairman of the Waikato Conservation Board. He floated the idea of a farming conservation award and on further investigation, it was decided to expand the concept to sustainable farming.”

In the years since then, Mr Natzke has closely followed the development of the awards, from the very early days when he said they were regarded somewhat suspiciously as something for “greenies and sandal-wearers” to today’s mainstream acceptance.

Mr Natzke brings to the role both personal and professional experience of the rural sector. He grew up on his parents’ beef and sheep farm in the Waikato He was chief executive of Federated Farmers from 1989 to 1998 and Federated Farmers of New Zealand’s General Manager Corporate Services until December 2005.

New Zealand Farm Environment Trust Chairman Peter Nation says Mr Natzke’s appointment comes as a natural extension of the awards programme’s growth.

“The awards have grown quickly over the past few years to the point the Trust recognised a need for strategic and professional management,” Mr Nation says. “Our ongoing growth strategy in terms of regions, sponsorship, regional council support and funding means we need someone who understands the environment, the awards objectives and who has strong networks in the rural community. We’re delighted to welcome David on board.”

High caliber applicants from throughout New Zealand put their hat in the ring for the job which Mr Nation says is further evidence of the BFEA’s development and respect.

Mr Natzke’s vision for the Ballance Farm Environment Awards’ future is to see blanket New Zealand coverage.

“There are only a few areas where the awards are not yet operating and we’re looking to bring them on board,” he says. “I also see the extension work of the awards programme as a huge challenge.”

He says as the Resource Management Act is predicated on promoting sustainability and good farm management practices and as most people are opposed to rules-based operations, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards lead the way in helping people to make decisions based on good information.

“There is no shortage of good role models out there. These awards champion the work they are doing,” Mr Natzke says.

With Ballance Farm Environment Awards now operating in eight regions around New Zealand – Northland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Horizons, Greater Wellington, Canterbury, Otago and Southland – Mr Natzke says it’s important to acknowledge regional differences within the programme.

“No one model fits all, and we have to recognise that while we all have the same objectives, there are different ways of getting there.”

A universal feature of the awards, however, that Mr Natzke highlights is the enormous voluntary contribution of people in the rural community who give freely of their time and expertise.

“There are literally hundreds of judges around the country who, because of their belief in the awards, are prepared to help others achieve their goals of a sustainable farming culture.”

Mr Natzke also commended the commitment of the awards’ family of sponsors.

“The awards have attracted sponsorship from rural product and service providers who share the Trust’s commitment and vision. Principal sponsor Ballance Agri-Nutrients is joined in supporting the Farm Environment Awards by Rabobank, PPCS, PGG Wrightson, Livestock Improvement Corporation, Gallagher Group and Hill Laboratories. I will be working closely with these organisations.”

The awards are strengthened by the valuable support of Environment Waikato, the Northland Regional Council, the Greater Wellington Regional Council, Horizons Regional Council, Environment Bay of Plenty, Environment Canterbury and the Otago Regional Council.

ENDS

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