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Federated Farmers pays tribute to John O’ Connor

Federated Farmers pays tribute to John O’ Connor

Federated Farmers offers its deepest condolences to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and family after the passing of his father, West Coast dairy farmer John O’Connor.

Mr O’ Connor ONZM was a passionate advocate for the dairy industry and was regarded as a pioneer for introducing dairy to the Buller district on the West Coast.

He was a Nuffield Scholar, Federated Farmers National Dairy Chair, West Coast Provincial President and served for 48 years as a director on the Buller Valley, Karamea and Westland Dairy Companies.

Federated Farmers’ National President and fellow Coaster, Katie Milne says, "John deservedly achieved recognition for dedicating his life to the rural community, and was also a life member of Federated Farmers.

"He was always genuine and encouraged those he met with an interest in farmer politics, offering advice freely from his wealth of knowledge and experience."

A keen sports follower and marathon runner, Mr O’Connor was an active member of the West Coast Rural Support Trust even in his later life.

"If you’re a Coaster you’ll really appreciate the challenges there is farming near the mighty Buller River.

"Mr O’Connor epitomised the true West Coaster spirit through his determination and resilience to withstand the local climatic extremities.

"He also valiantly battled the scourge of TB in cattle and served on the RAHC - Tb Free as it is now called.

"The West Coast farming community has lost one it its biggest battlers - he will be sorely missed," says Katie.

West Coast dairy farmer and close friend Ian Robb, remembers Mr O’ Connor’s engaging sense of humour and strong moral values.

"John had a kind, wonderful personality, he could relate to most people and the trials and tribulations they faced as farmers. He would always back the underdog and would seek out those doing it tough, and this was before the days of the Rural Support Trusts.

"As his name goes, he definitely had that Irish charm. He was also a great orator and was adept at getting his point of view over in difficult conversations without offending anyone."

In his seventies, Mr O' Connor was so formidable and respected, he was still being re-elected to the Westland Dairy Companies when up against strong candidates.

"He didn’t always agree for example with the merging of the Coast’s dairy companies, but he soon got on with it, because he wanted farmers to succeed collectively," said Mr Robb.

Mr O’Connor is survived by his wife of 62 years, Del, six children and 20 grandchildren.

ENDS


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