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Lincoln’s Bledisloe Medal to Mid-Canterbury farmer

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Lincoln’s Bledisloe Medal to Mid-Canterbury farmer

Mid-Canterbury farmer Brian Cameron of Pendarves, a pioneer in irrigation in Canterbury, founding father of the NZ agricultural cooperatives movement and a former Deputy Chairman of meat company PPCS Ltd has been awarded Lincoln University’s prestigious Bledisloe Medal for outstanding contributions to New Zealand’s land-based interests.

The award, instituted in 1930 by Governor-General Lord Bledisloe, will be presented at Lincoln University’s Graduation Ceremony in Christchurch Town Hall on Friday. (27 April)

An agricultural science graduate of Lincoln University, Brian and wife Norma farmed together in Mid-Canterbury from 1963 and recently sold their properties for new challenges in a family-owned grape-growing and wine making enterprise.

As a farmer Brian was always interested in achieving optimum stocking rates. He knew the importance of a reliable water supply for increased production and in 1969, challenging local doubts that it would work, he sank the first deep irrigation bore in Canterbury - possibly in New Zealand. - and became the first farmer to use permanent underground mains.

Going on to pioneer irrigation systems in Canterbury, he developed crop rotations, stocking systems and techniques to suit and hosted numerous field days for farmers and students.

He became the foundation chairman of the New Zealand Irrigation Association, formed to promote irrigation interests nationally and represent the industry to government and other water stakeholders.

For 30 years he chaired the Rakaia Irrigation Association and his involvement in irrigation continues as Deputy Chairman of the Barrhill/Chertsey Irrigation Cooperative Company, formed from a merger of the Rakaia and Barrhill groups. This company recently obtained consent for a 40,000 hectare community irrigation scheme from the Rakaia River.

The cooperative approach to community related enterprises has always been close to Brian’s heart. In 1979 he served on the cooperative association steering committee as one of two South Island representatives from Federated Farmers and he became first chairman of the New Zealand Agricultural Cooperatives Association when it was formed in 1982. He chaired that organisation and its successor, the New Zealand Cooperatives Association, until 1998.

He is regarded as the “father” of the cooperatives movement in New Zealand and was its public face through the 1980s and 1990s.

He served 20 years on the PPCS board, four of them as Deputy Chairman, and was a CFM board member for several years prior to the PPCS takeover.

In Federated Farmers Brian has been variously Pendarves branch chairman and Pendarves delegate to the Mid-Canterbury executive and Meat and Wool Section.

Agricultural education is another area which has always been close to Brian’s heart. For 25 years he and wife Norma hosted Lincoln University class visits to their farm properties, he was a farm tutor for four years, a committee member of the Lincoln University Alumni Association for 10 years and president for two years. For 20 years he was a member of Lincoln University Council, and was its longest-serving member when he retired in December last year.

As a student at Lincoln, Brian was President of the Students’ Association, and a Lincoln and New Zealand Universities sports blues winner several times over.


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